This weekend Links Hall enters into a new era of arts curation and presentation with the culmination of the 96 Hours project: a play off of the typical 24-hour theater project or 48-hour film process. On Saturday at 1, 3 and 5 p.m., three teams of artists (listed below) will present their 20-45min creations from (you guessed it) a 96-hour creation process. On Sunday, the works will stream again consecutively at 5 p.m., followed by a virtual Q&A with the artists.
As to what to expect? You’ll actually have to tune in to the performance to find out, as the process has been left fairly open-ended to the artists involved. The teams, who were curated and paired together by the Links Hall staff, decide whether to rehearse in person or remotely. They also decide whether to present pre-recorded work, live work from the Links Studio A or a combination of the two. Teams are made up of three artists at different points in their careers and across disciplines including dance, film, puppetry and music. When curating the artists, Links Hall tried to keep an open mind about the ways that dance or movement could make its way into the creative process.
“A lot of the artists that we chose are rooted in improvisation or movement. We also tried to choose musicians and singers and filmmakers and puppeteers. So anything can happen,” Links Hall partnerships coordinator Aaliyah Christina said in a phone interview with production manager Giau Trong. “Someone could devise a piece focused around dance and music, and another person could devise a piece that’s focused on vocal arrangement—even puppetry could be involved, which is a different type of negotiation around choreography.”
There are a few guidelines: each team must facilitate audience interaction in some way and each team will choose will pass an object to another team to use in their performance. Otherwise Links Hall is leaving the process entirely up to the artists.
“96 Hours is an experiment,” Christina said. “I think we’re all hoping for different things. For me personally, I think I’m hoping for us to learn something together and create a benchmark for what we can look forward to for the future. This is going to be a show that is embracing the new system of virtual and digital programming.”
Since postponing spring and summer programming in March, Links Hall has spent the past few months deciding how best to invest in technology and services to be a functioning hybrid space for virtual and in-person artistic projects going forward.
Trong spent most of his time researching livestream technology such as systems like Open Broadcaster Software and high quality livestream equipment so that Links Hall could provide artists with access to technology and tech experts that they may not be able to afford on their own. With the launch of 96 Hours comes a maiden voyage of this new equipment, including updated sound and lighting gear to make it easier for designers to be able to work socially distanced from performing artists.
Part of Trong’s research has been talking and exchanging information with other technicians: sound designers, lighting designers and filmmakers to name a few. That has bled its way into 96 Hours, where a technician has been paired with each team. Trong and the technicians met to talk through Links Hall’s new technology and to share information between the group. The idea is to provide a tech expert to each team to aid in the creation of the virtual component of the project—as well as equip these technicians with knowledge that they can take to other arts projects.
At the end of the day, 96 Hours is an opportunity to remain safe in the time of COVID, support independent artists and support platforms that encourage artists to create at a time where it’s difficult for many to do so.
“We want to give opportunities to people to explore the virtual medium itself and to be able to learn, experiment and innovate as much as possible within a time limit. And then, whatever comes out of that—it really isn’t about the project, but about the process of it all and the collaboration and experience of the team,” Trong said.
“I’m just hoping this process will create some new motivation and spark some fire under people to start making again,” Christina said.
Links Hall’s 96 Hours can be viewed via a livestream link sent out prior to the performance. Tickets can be found via the event link below and cost $12 for for individual team performances and $30 for access to the entire festival. The artists Q&A is free and open to anyone.
96 Hours Artist Line-up:
Ayako Kato (dancemaker & improviser)
Spence Warren (filmmaker, musician, & puppeteer)
Nora Sharp (dancemaker & storyteller)
Dawn Xiana Moon (fire spinner, belly dancer & singer-songwriter)
Lia Kohl (cellist & multi-disciplinary artist)
D3won (hip hop artist & producer)
Marceia L Scruggs (dancemaker and experimental storyteller)
Erica Rene (Opera, Gospel, R&B songstress)
Ben LaMar Gay (cornetist & composer)