Arts and Culture

The LIDA Project's Brian Freeland on learning how to be in two places at once

For close to twenty years, the LIDA Project, Brian Freeland's experimental theater group, has been both a deliberately collaborative effort and the spawn of Freeland's own unique vision, and the model has worked well for the company. Even when Freeland took a sabbatical in 2010, LIDA continued to take Freeland-style chances, and his return brought only more of the same. But what will happen now that Freeland has announced that he's making a personal move with his family to New York City, while LIDA stays in Denver? Freeland sees it as just another stage in the brave new world that LIDA has always been, and the show will go on: here and there and possibly in the cyberspaces in-between.

See also: Now Showing: Chip Walton and Brian Freeland

Freeland admits that "New York is intimidating, but it's also the glorious home of the avant grade theater in U.S."

But, he adds, "I'm anxious to keep my pulse in my hometown," and he has his reasons. "The thing I've loved most about little Denver is how it's been a safe place to create work. And I think Denver needs a provocateur, someone to stir things up."

Freeland also appreciates Denver's strongly evident Western pioneer spirit, a mindset that quietly makes room for experimenters to work alongside more traditional companies. That ease is important, so for now, he hopes to continue growing work in Denver and perhaps bring it to the showcase stages of New York or tour it to other cities. Like his life, his work is up in the air.

"Our options are so different now," Freeland says. "Live theater is slowly losing prominence as the go-to entertainment in town. Art culture is now more consumer-driven: Theater and performance, symphonies, dance, opera -- they're all the vestiges of something that happens at a certain time for an audience in a theater. That all changes now with the rise of technology and online accessibility to other modes of creation. Theater used to be a fertile outlet; now, art communities are growing stronger online. As we're losing that, live theater becomes a precious commodity -- what happens when we all get in room together to see and hear a story that's told can happen in that moment. Now with live online interaction, can you create a theater that happens on screens? It's a paradigm-breaking idea, yet it's the liveness that we want to preserve -- the thing we love about live theater is that it's always of the moment."

Whether here or from afar, Freeland also hopes to continue running work | space, the black-box venue LIDA shares with Control Group Productions in the Laundry on Lawrence in RiNo, with some positive changes. "After a lot of talk, LIDA has decided to keep its commitment to the space and continue to run the venue," he says. "Our goal is to work towards a long-term presenting model where the space is hosting and presenting new works excessively in addition to premiering LIDA's original work. This was the model that LIDA and Control Group put forth and have been working towards. With the ongoing support of the Space Creators and the LIDA Project staff, we feel that the capacity is there to keep the space headed in that direction. So here we go...."

Learn more about the LIDA Project online.

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd