Aspen, CO: The Wheeler Opera House is honored to host a residency for the Italian theatre company Compagnia TPO (Teatro di Piazza o d’Occasione) this May. This pioneering, multi-disciplinary performance group melds music, dance, art, sculpture, digital media, lighting, and sound into a one-of-kind, interactive experience. While the company is here studying the Roaring Fork Valley’s landscapes, they will be performing a movement workshop – most likely mimicking the cycle of butterflies at the Riverview School in Glenwood Springs for the kindergarten and first-grade classes on Monday, May 8th, 2023. The Wheeler has commissioned them to create an interactive environmental piece adapted to the valley’s character, monuments, and ecosystem that will be presented in the spring of 2024.

With direction from our Executive Director, Lisa Rigsby Peterson, the Wheeler plans to bolster our student programming and outreach for the 2023-2024 season and beyond by bringing a diverse array of world-class artists to schools and the Wheeler stage. Compagnia TPO is just the beginning of our student engagement efforts. “We are really excited about this project and partnership and can’t wait to share more with you next spring!”

About the company:
Visual, emotional, tactile, immersive… In TPO, creation coincides with an interactive scenery. Using digital design all sets become “sensitive environments” continuous crossfades between art and play can be experienced. Dancers, performers and the audience share the stage and find a common ground of enjoyment beyond cultural and language barriers. Each artwork is designed to dialogue with players in motion, individual dancers or children. Images and sounds interface with the moving bodies on stage, transforming live gestures and virtual landscapes into a charming interactive art environment.

In TPO productions, the role of performers achieves a special valence; thanks to the interactive effects the dancers on stage use their bodies in movement to “paint” and “play music” but, above all, they invite the audience children to explore the space with an approach to theatre that emphasizes the use of the body and the gaze. The TPO Company’s work is directed by a versatile and tight-knit team composed of Davide Venturini, Francesco Gandi, (artistic direction), Elsa Mersi (visual design), Spartaco Cortesi (sound design), Rossano Monti and Martin von Günten (engineering). On stage a team of dancers with international experience develops a constant aesthetic and expressive exploration in order to put the children in touch with contemporary dance.

+Erba is an interactive show with two dancers who create together with children an imaginary city. The ‘architect’ dancer observes the landscape and draws the city with houses and streets. The other dancer loves the earth, the insects and draws grass and trees. The two characters move in an empty scene where projections on two large, aligned screens evoke a room of wonder. Here their ideas, imagination and projects are drawn from movement and come to life. The architect creates houses full of color and light, the other dancer redesigns them by adding grass and trees. Slowly an imaginary city grows by combining their different sensitivities. The newborn city becomes a living environment and new characters and new events are added. The children come to color and populate the city. Insects appear, the seasons change and the city gets bigger, busier and more complex. Their dream of a green city is coming true. But there is also a factory that grows and grows, scaring away insects, birds, people and making greenery disappear. Together with the children, the dancers will design a new space where nature will grow and where a ‘tree concert’ can be expected.

Davide Venturini studied sociology at Cesare Alfieri University in Florence and has been with the TPO company since 1983. Within it, he has directed productions with an eye to the pedagogical aspects of art, and in particular the processes of visual communication, emphasizing the value of images and the use in theatre of hi-tech devices. He currently holds the post of TPO author and Artistic Director.