‘Fahrenheit 451’ inspires multi-media production

April 17, 2009
Red and Black
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‘Fahrenheit 451’ inspires multi-media production
By Chris Miller

In a town where art flows as easily as the Oconee River, a group of musicians, writers and visual artists look to amalgamate their mediums into a single fluid piece.

“Kenosha Kid performs Fahrenheit” is a multi-media production in 10 scenes that will feature a six-piece band and two readers performing a script composed by the group. On a screen behind the performers, video will be pieced together live from found footage and original digital compositions.

Each scene encapsulates a theme inspired by Ray Bradburry’s book “Fahrenheit 451.”

“It’s like if you took the character Montag and wrote a song about him and a short poem and made video, then performed it all together,” said Dan Nettles, organizer of “Fahrenheit” and guitar player and front-man for long standing Athens jazz group, Kenosha Kid.

The music is a mix of originals written by Nettles – some from a stage production of the book he did in September 2007, and some more recent compositions.

Nettles has worked with all of the involved artists before, and an Ideas for Creative Exploration grant the group received allowed him to pool all of their talents and expand the music he had created for the stage.

ICE is a University-based initiative that provides funding for artists who look to produce original, multi-media work.

“[Fahreheit is] an opportunity for people from the school and from the community to work together on a project,” said Mark Callahan, artistic director for the ICE program.

“And the idea of a live performance and multi-media is a strong idea for research.”

The ICE Initiative awarded nearly $20,000 in grants this spring to fund various projects.

“I think the spirit of their grant is to get the different disciplines of artists together to create something new,” said Eddie Whelan, who will perform the live visuals accompanying the music.

Whelan, a senior at the University from Savannah, has provided visual accompaniment for local music acts such as Down with the Woo, but this will be his first time performing a piece that has a thematic backbone.

Nettles has scored several silent films for Kenosha Kid, but having a live video accompaniment will allow the visual element to become part of the band.

“A lot of it’s fairly premeditated; this has very specific themes,” Whelan said. “But the idea is to have it as a live instrument, a live process, so I have the liberty to improvise.”

The final element to be layered on is the two readers, Laylage Courie and Dan Bollinger. They will be reading from a script written by the group. The narration will be in sync with the music and video.

“Dan asked me to help him edit the Bradbury text so that it would frame his music and evoke key themes … He wants the text to focus your attention so that the music can speak,” said Courie, a New York performance artist who has roots in Watkinsville.

With band members spread across the United States, the first rehearsal that brought them all into a single room was Monday. For the band, it only adds to the excitement of the performance.

“We don’t really know what’s going to happen,” Whelan said, “but it should be interesting.”