“People are still coming into the Weill Center and are talking about how wonderful Lightwire Theater was in December. Thank you again to everyone for a memorable performance!” – Kim, Stefanie H. Weill Center for the Performing Arts
“It is a privilege to present work of such distinguished quality and innovation, and knowing your company’s willingness to accommodate the neediest of children in our community makes such engagements particularly rewarding.” Daniel, Playhouse Square
“Wish we Nebraskans could see you perform again … Loved loved loved seeing you and meeting everyone back stage … and seeing how it all comes together and turns out so awesome !!!!!! Absolutely love what you do !!!!!!!” – Becky, Facebook
“Amazing show!!!! Both of my girls 5 & 2 LOVED it!!” – Leah, Facebook
Dino-Light/Darwin the Dinosaur
Moon Mouse: A Space Odyssey
The Ugly Duckling
Lightwire: The Show
A Very Electric Christmas
Dino-Light: The Plain Dealer
Darwin the Dinosaur: LA Times
Darwin: An Adventure for All Ages created, choreographed and directed by Ian Carney and Corbin Popp
Kirk Douglas Theatre • March 9-14, 2009 (rev’d 3/14m)
with Anna Morris, Stephen Charles Nicholson, Meg Paul, Corbin Popp, Michael Quintana, Tierney St. John
Loosening the grip that computer games and other technology-based entertainment have on young attention spans could use some “alternating currency.” Recently, Center Theatre Group jolted the effort forward with a P.L.A.Y. production at the Kirk Douglas Theatre entitled “Darwin: An Adventure for All Ages.” The multi-disciplinary production drew a couple of housefuls of Culver City kids and their handlers. And, true to its claim, connected with the full span of viewers.
Created, choreographed and directed by Ian Carney and Corbin Popp, ‘Darwin’ is rich in the technologically dazzling visuals that today’s kids relish. It also promotes appreciation for puppetry and movement, art forms that resonate best in live performance. However, because the onstage characters appear to be mere light drawings, younger patrons may not appreciate what they’re appreciating until the humans reveal themselves at curtain call.
‘Darwin’ creates a menagerie of fantastic figures from squiggles of thin, neon piping and sets them into a dark Douglas stage. With a relationship reminiscent of Geppetto and Pinocchio and images recalling the Main Street Electrical Parade, ‘Darwin’ tells a story of a good-natured dinosaur discovering the outside world. Assembled and nurtured by a lonely scientist, Darwin is soon sent out to experience life for himself. His adventures will include escaping a carnivorous Tyrannosaurus, meeting a friendly pair of long neck creatures, and a deepwater swim with the fishes, including a big bopper with sunglasses. Eventually, overcome by worry and loneliness, the scientist goes looking for him and gets caught up in the fun and danger.
Justifying naming the dinosaur after Charles Darwin, the biologist who proposed the theory of evolution, a pre-show voiceover explains that he “discovers the evolution of love.” It’s tenuous, but clearly traced by a bright-red squiggle in the shape of a heart. The heart is passed from scientist to dinosaur to fish, etc. leaving each bearer with an increased peace, love and understanding.
Such a mix of science and creation might seem provocative in an age when school yards – like those the play visited on its brief tour – are battlegrounds for curriculum challenges. Some now demand that a religious-based ‘Creationism’ get equal time with Darwin’s Evolution theory. Still, it’s hard to imagine a show as inspired and well-intended as ‘Darwin’ stirring up any controversy.
Instead, it is a wonderful hour of fantasy that combines ancient, wordless storytelling with modern technology and music – both orchestral and pop. From the audience response, ‘Darwin’ has made future theater visits an easy sale – for all ages. And that’s evolution our culture needs more of. From my nephews’ post-show discussion, I can add one more rave: “Our favorite part was the light sabers.”
Darwin the Dinosaur: BroadwayWorld.com
BWW Reviews: CORBIAN Visual Arts and Dance Production of DARWIN at Wash U.
CORBIAN Visual Arts and Dance is a unique group of individuals, led by artistic directors Ian Carney and Corbin Popp, who are committed to bringing startling and engaging imagery to the stage. By utilizing illuminated wiring, puppetry, and a troupe well versed in dance and movement, they’re able to bring their simple, but elegant sketches to life. Their clever production Darwin played the Edison Theatre this past weekend (May 8, 2010), and provided a large and receptive audience with an eye-popping display of storytelling that’s like nothing else you’ve ever seen.
The plot is sort of more benign Jurassic Park-type tale, with a scientist creating a green raptor-like critter, who he provides with a heart that seems to tame his more base instincts. Though they form a bond, the scientist reluctantly sends his creation off to find his place in the world. Along the way, he encounters huge birds, fish, and a vicious red cousin. Saddened at his loss, and wary of what might have become of him, the scientist ventures out to find his lost charge. This leads to a climactic battle between red and green raptors that plays out with nods to both Star Wars and The Matrix.
The performers carry off this action with tremendous skill and grace, easily captivating the audience, and allowing them to become fully invested in the journey taking place. Each member is required to suit up in black before being covered in whatever wiring is needed to conjure up the creature appearing on stage at the time, so their anonymity is assured. But, they all possess the talent necessary to manipulate their bodies and puppets in ways that make each of them seem vibrantly alive and breathing.
Watching Darwin is an exhilarating experience, and a literal feast for the eyes and ears, with atmospheric sound cues and music neatly syncing up to the movements to produce a complete picture. Corbian Visual Arts and Dance is a force to be reckoned with, and it will be interesting to see how they evolve, especially with the inevitable technological advances that will come over time.
I really enjoyed attending the Washington University Ovations! Series at the Edison Theatre this season, because it gave me the opportunity to expose my young son to some of the most innovative and imaginative theatrical companies from around the globe. He was able to experience the thrills of a world-class clown (Jamie Adkins’ Circus Incognitus), some super-cool percussion from musicians who build their own instruments (ScrapArtsMusic), and the striking visual artistry of CORBIAN Visual Arts and Dance (Darwin).
by Chris Gibson
Darwin the Dinosaur: Bogota
Darwin the Dinosaur: Munich
Darwin the Dinosaur: Times Picayune
The Ugly Duckling: New York Post
“The ancient art of full-body puppetry gets a magical, luminous update . . . Children will love the clear, fast-paced stories, each with a positive message and kid-friendly humor. Adults will enjoy the musical in-jokes and marvel at how the heck Lightwire Theater does it all with only four (so few?) people!” – Leigh Witchel, Dance Writer, New York Post
The Ugly Duckling: RiverCenter for the Performing Arts
“The crew did am amazing job! For all three shows AND the special event backstage for the Brookstone School 3rd Grade. The school and parents are over-the-moon. This is arts-integrated education at its finest.” – Rick McKnight, RiverCenter for the Performing Arts
Lightwire: The Show: Battle Creek Enquirer
Kelley, Annie J. (05 March 2014) “Tibbits gets a little strange and magical.”
“It’s hard to describe Lightwire Theater in words. Maybe if you imagined Jim Henson and George Lucas made an animated movie using only glowing lines on a dark background – then imagine it happening in real life, instead of on a screen.”
Lightwire: The Show: Bemidji Pioneer
Rall, Patt. (2014 February 23) “Lightwire is coming to Bemidji: A light show set for March 16 at the Bemidji High School Auditorium.”
“…in a darkened theater space with a black stage, the actors appears as giant birds, felines, dinosaurs, and just about any kind of animal one can imagine. And that is the trick when watching “Lightwire: The Show,” sit back in your seat, free your imagination and follow the story of an exiled young bird and his extraordinary powers.”
Lightwire: The Show: Muskegon Chronicle
Arino, LIsha (2014 March 02) “Lightwire: The Show brought bright lights, unique storytelling to stage.”
“Former “America’s Got Talent” contestants Lightwire Theater dazzled the audience with an out-of-the-box performance that consisted of music, dance puppetry and costumes outfitted with electroluminescent lights on March 1 at the Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts”
Lightwire: The Show: The Eagle
Twitchell, Jenny (2014 February 20) “Ready to shine: Lightwire brings dazzling performance to Rudder Auditorium.”
“For the first event of the new OPAS Family series, directors wanted to find a unique and exciting show that appeals to a broader audience. In Lightwire: The Show, they found just that. “We are delighted to offer Lightwire Theatre as the first offering on our new OPAS Family Series,” said Anne Black OPAS, executive director. I saw this company last year and it is perfect for family members of all ages.”
A Very Electric Christmas: Gambit
Coviello, Will. (2013 December 10) “Light, Camera, Action. AMERICA’S GOT TALENT competitors Lightwire Theater launch new shows and tours the world with its vibrant stories of dinosaurs, birds and wonder.”
Cover Story – Gambit Volume 34, Issue 50, 19-24:
“A Very Electric Christmas” is the group’s third show, and it’s original work that builds upon past characters and includes a few familiar but altered characters from Nutcracker, including the namesake Nutcracker and toy soldiers. There’s no Clara, and the main characters are a family of birds who are about to celebrate Christmas in New Orleans when a sudden snowstorm disrupts their plans.” “The show also features more recent holiday classics, such as “Jingle Bell Rock,” and references to contemporary popular culture, some of which only adult audiences will appreciate.”
A Very Electric Christmas: Nola.com | The Times Picayune
MacCash, Doug. (2013 December 12) “New Orleans Lightwire Theater’s ‘A Very Electric Christmas’ brings pop ballet to The Joy Theater.”
“Their new show, “A Very Electric Christmas,” blends classic holiday stories with some non-traditional flourishes and Cresent City touchstones. The plot features the theft of Santa’s gifts, an estranged bird, Basin Street nightlife and a Saints football helmet. The show was designed with kids in mind but, based on past Lightwire performances, this is one parents won’t mind attending.”
A Very Electric Christmas: Where Y’At Magazine
Hingle, Emily. (2013 December 18) “Behind the Scene: Lightwire Theater’s A Very Electric Christmas.”
“A Very Electric Christmas” is a fantastically executed show where neon characters are brought to life by the expert dancing of the cast. The music chosen to tell the story is not just Christmas music, but New Orleans tunes, modern music, and a few song excerpts that make for comedic relief. You can’t help but become emotionally involved in the story of this brave baby bird Max and his harrowing adventure to make it home for Christmas.”
A Very Electric Christmas: New Orleans Magazine
“It’s hard not to smile watching Lightwire’s dancers – who wear puppet-like costumes outfitted with electroluminescent wires and perform in the dark – bring to life tales of colorful creatures for children and adults alike.”