Holy Cross Theater Department to Premiere Original Production 'Shackled Spirits'

The College of the Holy Cross theatre department will present an original multi-media dance-drama titled “Shackled Spirits” directed by Lynn Kremer, professor of theater, and Balinese artists Suasthi Bandem and I Made Bandem. The show will be performed April 19-21 and April 26-28 at 8 p.m. in the Fenwick Theater (2nd floor of O’Kane Hall). Tickets are $7 for the Holy Cross community and $10 for the general public. Reservations for tickets can be made at Hogan Lobby tables, or through the box office at (508) 793-2496.

“Shackled Spirits” is an ensemble production concerning the treatment of the mentally ill.  The plot follows a writer whose memories of his time in a mental facility are dramatized in a series of episodes performed by the ensemble.

“The form of ‘Shackled Spirits’ is unique,” says Kremer, co-creator and co-director.  “The story is structured loosely and told more through movement and image than through with text, since memory is stored in the body as well as the mind.  The thoughts of the writer, the central character, are non-linear and non-literal, in the way that memories, dreams and fantasies are.”   Kremer adds that it is also the first time the theater department has used an installation artist to design the set. The artist, Made Wianta, is a visiting Balinese lecturer at Holy Cross.  Kremer has always admired his work, which was the inspiration for this unique production. Kremer was introduced to Wianta in 2009 and spent the 2010-11 academic year in Bali collaborating with Wianta on the first stages of the piece.  Wianta was able to secure permission for them to visit and videotape at the Balinese Mental Hospital in Bangli—a crucial step in the process. The play is based on visits to mental institutions, prisons, and other interactions with members of the island community. 

Wianta has created over 14,000 works of art over a period of two decades.  Many of them are widely known and have been exhibited at prestigious museums and galleries internationally.  In “Shackled Spirits,” Wianta’s aesthetic is represented through set design, puppets and masks.

“Students are enjoying having Wianta in rehearsal,” reports Kremer.  “And in addition to working on the play, he is teaching a class this semester titled ‘Visual Exploration of Balinese Art and Architecture.’”

The cast and creative team of “Shackled Spirits” include Matt Helfer ’12 as the Writer, Shannon LoCascio ’14 as the Dollhouse Girl, Barbara Craig (lighting designer) and Kurt Hultgren (costume designer).