Aura Curiatlas Physical Theatre is combining art and science for two performances at the Kimball Theatre this weekend. The theatre's unique name aims to evoke ideas of curiosity and strength.
"Curiosity is inherent to the stories that we tell," Joan Gavaler said. She is the theatre's co-artistic director as well as a William and Mary dance professor since 1994.
"It's accessible on multiple levels to a wide range of audiences," she said. The non-verbal nature of the performances make them easy for children to follow.
This show feature two distinct acts. It begins with "Dream Logic," six short stories of "ordinary situations presented in unusual ways."
"Seats," for example, features two performers fighting between a good bus seat and a broken one, with both seats portrayed by fellow performers. "Newton's Cradle" mimics Sir Isaac Newton's device of silver balls separating and coming back together, with performers simulating the device.
After an intermission, "A Life With No Limits" will tell the story of physicist Stephen Hawking, his science and his soul.
"He's a unique individual for being a person who's physically restrained but whose work is so far reaching," Gavaler said. "We all want to be able to engage with the world."
Hawking's ALS left him wheelchair-bound, but his mind remains active. Company members will move the stage portrayal of Hawking around, and the show will tackle scientific concepts like the event horizon, associated with black holes, and explore themes of separation and longing.
The theatre emphasizes using one's imagination. Galaver compared the audience's experience to that of reading a book, when one has to add their own ideas and experiences into the mix.
"The audience has to participate," she said. "The audience is part of creating the story. It creates a community where you're having shared experiences."
She said that experiencing something real and concrete is becoming increasingly valuable in our digital age.
"Audiences come to our shows and they have an experience, a kinesthetic, visceral experience," Gavaler said.
On May 9, the theatre is also participating in Give Local 757, an annual, 24-hour online fundraiser that helps more than 200 area nonprofits raise money and build awareness.
Birkenmeyer can be reached by phone at 757-790-3029.
Want to go?
Aura Curiatlas performs "Dream Logic" and "A Life with No Limits" on Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for students and available online at bit.ly/2oTOvPQ or by calling 1-800-HISTORY.