The New Ohio Theatre and IRT Theater’s Archive Residency world premiere of Byzantine Choral Project’s Icons/Idols: In The Purple Room, a choral drama and immersive installation, with book and lyrics by Helen Banner, music by Grace Oberhofer and installation design by Afsoon Pajoufar, running from April 30 – May 22 (opens May 2) at New Ohio Theatre (154 Christopher St) in NYC.
Follow the young Athenian orphan Irene into the heart of Byzantine power as tensions between religious and political factions threaten to rupture an empire. Listening to the story unfold on their phones, a socially distanced audience is guided through a space charged with birth and death, where power is fought over and exchanged, the mighty can be destroyed, and fragile bodies attempt to channel the divine. With a haunting score inspired by Byzantine chant, featuring the voices of ten female and non-binary performers, In The Purple Room, wrestles with how to make something new out of a shattered world. *Note: There are no live performers in the space.
Artistic Director Robert Lyons says, “I think this is the perfect show and project to reopen our space. A great example of artists remaining flexible with their vision and adapting to shifting realities. It’s a beautiful musical and vocal soundscape, and just being back in the physical theatre will make it even more special!”
Grace Oberhofer writes, “After a year away from NYC theater spaces, without the ritual of shared thought and intimacy that comes with being together as an audience, it’s a wonderful feeling to be back at the New Ohio. The idea of sharing this piece that challenges ritual and belief, in a safe and socially distanced way, feels like a fitting way for us all to re-connect.” Helen Banner adds, “I wanted to create something that captures the magic of going on a story hunt for the past in the fiercely complex and beautiful world of Byzantium in the eighth century. It’s been a Byzantine project in its own right to make this with all our performers remotely, and I’m delighted to be able to share this new slice of Icons/Idols as we are finally able to come back into the New Ohio and restart theatre making in New York.”
Audio drama performed by Hilary Asare, Iris Beaumier, Isabella Dawis, Hannah Eakin, Julia Izumi, Grace Oberhofer, Lukas Papenfusscline, Shanta Parasuraman, Yael Shavitt and Kay Weber.
Music Direction by Robert Frost, Sound Design by Grace Oberhofer and Nathan Leigh, and Audio Engineering by Nathan Leigh. Produced by Emily Caffery.
Timed entries, under COVID-safe conditions, are available on Friday, April 30 between 7-9pm, Saturday, May 1 between 7-9pm, Sunday, May 2 between 3-5pm, Friday, May 7 between 7-8pm, Saturday, May 8 between 4-5pm and 7-8pm, Saturday, May 15 between 4-5pm and 7-8pm, Sunday, May 16 between 3-4pm, Friday, May 21 between 7-8pm, and Saturday, May 22 between 4-5pm and 7-8pm. Time ranges represent various start times. Running time is approximately 45 minutes. Capacity is 20 guests max in the theater at one time (legal limit is 24). Tickets are $20 and sold in fifteen-minute intervals with timed entries for 1-2 people every five minutes. Purchase at NewOhioTheatre.org.
Audience members listen to the show on their own phone/mp3 player/portable device, using their own headphones or earbuds. Information will be emailed in advance with instructions on how to download the audio before coming to the show. A wheelchair accessible version of the audio and show will also be available to book in advance.
All visitors and staff will be required to wear masks while inside the building. Timed entry will ensure members of separate parties remain six feet apart when inside the installation, and strict capacity limits, enhanced air filtration, health screening and contract tracing protocols will be in effect. A copy of the full safety plan will be available upon request.