The Baby Boom generation lost its innocence with the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy in the 1960s, and Millennials experienced the same loss with the death and destruction on U.S. soil on Sept. 11, 2001. What about the children born after 9/11 into a world of endless war and civil upheaval, where the Internet and social media have erased any sense of traditional boundary, refuge, and innocence? Technology feeds every superficial need or interest in a nanosecond, yet leaves everyone, especially young people, more vulnerable and unprotected than any preceding generation.
What can parents of today’s children offer in the face of such forfeited innocence?
Gleanings into questions without evident answers will be found when AtticRep, the 2005 theater company created by Italian-born Roberto Prestigiacomo, a Trinity University professor, theater creator and director, presents its latest work, 14, in eight performances over 11 days, June 9-19, at the Tobin Center for Performing Arts’ Carlos Alvarez Studio. Tickets are $28, and are discounted for students, military, and seniors. Click here to view dates, seating, and purchase tickets.
14 is written and directed by Prestigiacomo. It’s an intensely personal work “about a girl growing up in a post-9/11 world,” and that girl happens to be his 14-year-old daughter. The original work incorporates dance, physical theatre, aerial, music, and video mapping. And, judging by rehearsal images, water, lots of water.
“As a parent, I am aware that the world my daughter is entering is more dangerous and less stable than the one I experienced growing up,” Prestigiacomo writes. “If we cannot guarantee a safe world for our kids, we can create one through art. 14 is my contribution. 14 represents a world with its challenges and its joys, a journey with its obstacles and its victories. Ultimately, 14 is a life journey every parent desires for their kids, a life every young generation should inherit and where each child has the potential to realize his or her bliss.”
AtticRep is in its 10th season, remarkably resilient in a city that has invested little in live theater. Its elevation to Theater Company in Residence at the Tobin Center is testimony to its creative originality and artistic quality. AtticRep is San Antonio’s best-kept secret in the performing arts, yet arguably the most cutting-edge, accessible, and intimate performance art available in the city. 14, it seems, could be the breakthrough production that helps Prestigiacomo & Company connect to a wider audience and attract the kind of public arts funding it deserves but now lacks.
In an April 4 review of “Secrets of a Soccer Mom,” directed by Marisela Barrera, the Rivard Report’s Bekah McNeel described AtticRep as “quietly subversive,” a reference, perhaps to the timing of the all-women production as many in the city were debating the conspicuous absence of Latina artists in the public conversation about the arts, political power, and gender equality.
“AtticRep is one of the most multicultural theater companies in San Antonio,” Barrera told McNeel.
It’s also the most original and dynamic. Prestigiacomo is unafraid to address controversial issues, be it war by drone, homelessness, or immigration. It’s theater art generating social discourse, and that makes it more than performance, although the performers leave everything behind on stage. A Rome native with deep roots in Sicily, Prestigiacomo’s career spans Europe, New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and San Antonio. Along the way he has built a cadre of fellow theater artists unbound by geography in their pursuit of craft. Actors are routinely imported from other countries to add an extra dimension to AtticRep productions and to give local actors the benefit of working with experienced artists from other cultures and places.
Such is the case with 14. On and off stage, the language mix must be an interesting one as a cast from San Antonio, San Marcos, and New Braunfels finds itself working with an Italian-born director, an Ecuadorian native, a resident of Berlin, a native of the Louisiana Bayou, and others drawn to the production.
14 is created by Roberto Prestigiacomo in collaboration with Aerial Horizon/Aerial choreography by Julia Langenberg/Dance Choreography by Seme Jatib/Movement Choreography by Mireya Guerra/Digital Mapping, video and projections by Stefano Di Buduo/Performances: June 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18 at 8 PM/June 12, 19 at 2:30.
Featured image: Inundated on stage in rehearsal of 14, written and directed by Roberto Prestigiacomo. Photo courtesy of AtticRep.