Ryan Tewell spends a lot of time explaining his new performance group, The Apollon.
“The question I end up answering the most is ‘So, what is it now?’” Tewell said, chuckling.
And with good reason. The Apollon (pronounced apple-on), which launches its first full season Friday, combines live theater, performance art, music, food and visual art into one experience.
It’s not like going to a traditional play, Tewell said. And it’s not like going to a gallery show, either. You can’t buy a ticket for just the performance, or just go and eat the dinner.
“We create an immersive performance experience,” said Tewell, who is Apollon’s director. “All forms of art, in our view, boil down to three elements: The performer, the witness and their shared experience.”
The Apollon had a performance last fall in Lincoln called “Out of the Lips of Silence,” a movement piece based on Willa Cather’s poem “Prairie Spring.” The show included live theater, a dinner and a gallery show.
Since then, the Apollon has partnered with the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Criss Library, where they will launch a full season of performances beginning Friday.
“Full-time: Struggle and Satisfaction in Working America” explores what it means to earn a living and make a life in America and is based, in part, on the music of Bruce Springsteen.
Tewell said the piece focuses on the “dark side” of the American dream.
A number of artists are collaborating on the piece. That collaboration, Tewell said, is what Apollon is all about. Each show features 20 to 30 artists, musicians, writers, performers and chefs.
Tewell said the artists work together on each part of the performance instead of getting a theme, working separately and then trying to blend together many different works.
“With that model, it becomes a single experience,” he said. “You can’t take the pieces out and experience them separately.”
Tickets for the opening night performance on Friday are discounted to $10.
The show runs at the UNO Criss Library through May 20. The performances begin at 6:30 p.m. and there will be a 12:30 p.m. matinee May 20. After opening night, tickets are $22 in advance, $25 at the door for students and Apollon members and $30 general admission.
For more information and to see a full schedule, visit apollonomaha.com.
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