‘Dragons in the Mountain’

Article Published: Oct. 25, 2012 | Modified: Oct. 28, 2012
‘Dragons in the Mountain’

The Fire Dragon will make an appearance during Star of the Sea Studios’ presentation of
‘Dragons in the Mountain.’
Photos submitted

Many have seen bears in local mountains.

Some claim to have seen cougars.

Now, a lucky few will witness animals rarely reported: dragons.

Boone-based Star of the Sea Studios presents “Dragons in the Mountain,” a live multidisciplinary performance with a cast of 80. Fans of live music, photography and video, and exquisite masks and puppets will witness all of the above in this theatrical spectacle.
“It’s definitely not traditional,” said Alistair Burke, who runs Star of the Sea Studios, along with wife Kathy Ford.

Burke said that the plot of this “dream-like” show follows a “worn-down, burnt out environmentalist, who goes on a visionary journey to restore the soul.”

It is during this journey that the environmentalist and audience meet the lavishly designed puppets, representing wizards, trolls, a silvery humanoid star and, naturally, dragons. The show’s masks and puppets are designed by Ford, a theater artist with more than 30 years experience in many areas of live performance.

While puppetry is an ancient art, new media will comprise the setting. Burke, a photographer and filmmaker, said that he and Ford “find ways to interweave our talents and bring digital media into productions we do to bring another layer.”

In this case, that layer means using both video and still photography to project a surrealistic composite of the Appalachian landscape on screens as a backdrop to the performance.

Appalachian State University professor Liz Rose is music director for Star of the Sea’s show. A specialist in music education and music therapy, Rose guides performers in “Dragons in the Mountain” through singing in a choir and a quartet, and oversees instrumentalists playing drums, piano, trombone and harp.

The ecological poetry of Appalachian writer Wendell Berry is featured in music during performances. For this story of environmentalism and renewal, Rose chose modern composer Malcolm Dalglish’s “Hymnody of Earth,” which uses Berry’s poetry as lyrics.

Burke and Ford moved to North Carolina from New York, where they ran a theater group called Moonrise Theatricals. Burke said that upon relocating to the mountains, “…we recycled ourselves into Star of the Sea.”

The company’s last local work was the similarly multi-disciplinary “Shining Seas” and was a response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. That 2010 show was sold out, as is the upcoming Friday night performance of “Dragons in the Mountain.”

“Saturday tickets are still available,” Burke said, “but are going fast.”

“Dragons in the Mountain” is part of Appalachian State University’s Performing Arts Series and takes place Friday, Oct. 26, and Saturday, Oct. 27, at 8 p.m. at the Broyhill Events Center on the campus of Appalachian State University.

Co-sponsors for this production are the ASU Department of Theatre and Dance, Appalachian’s Sustainability Council and the Hayes School of Music.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students. Patrons can purchase tickets by calling (828) 262-4046, visiting http://www.pas.appstate.edu, or through the Performing Arts Series box office, which is temporarily located in the Valborg Theatre on the ASU campus.

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