Diana Oh Hosts a Sleepover Event at the Ancram Opera House

by Gail M. Burns

Diana Oh wants to sleep over with you at the Ancram Opera House. Literally. On Saturday, August 25 at 8:30 pm, Oh will host a solo rock concert/dialogue/party/performance piece that will morph into a BYOB (bring your own sleeping bag) sleepover for 20 guests at the 1927 Grange Hall.

This will be the second of a series of immersive, improvisatory performances exploring connection, joy, and radical vulnerability, which Oh has scheduled at art houses across the country as part of a year dedicated to self-care, taking care of others, and allowing her heart to be fed. “{my lingerie play} involved a lot of activism and organizing, and confrontation. It got to a point where I feel a bit burned out. We have to nourish our hearts to keep going. Sleeping over in ‘sacred spaces,’ in heart centered places, is burn-out prevention for me.”

“Last month my collaborator, Matt Park, and I stayed at the National Black Theatre and wrote music for 24-hours, which we presented the following night as a full-blown punk concert commissioned by the New York Music Festival,” Oh explained, “But the sleepover here in Ancram will be a completely different beast. I am trying to act with ultimate vulnerability and ultimate open-heartedness. I want to share something personal with this audience and forge the audience/performer bond.”

“Diana’s thoughts about connection through performance – and the reimagining of what is a performance experience – are so aligned with our mission and values that it made inviting Diana to be a part of a season a no-brainer,” said Jeffrey Mousseau, co-director of the Ancram Opera House with Paul Ricciardi.

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“This is my first time here in Ancram so Paul and Jeff know better than I what the audience will be like. My hope is that the audience is a real mix of town folks and New Yorkers coming together and creating an unforgettable bond between strangers,” Oh mused.

“We are committed to introducing interesting, innovative, alternative artists to this community of culturally curious folks, who are often not familiar with younger artists,” Mousseau explained. “We love that we’re serving this vibrant regional arts community as well as Diana’s fan base and colleagues. We really want to bring together different people from different places through the performance art experience.”

“I have the hunger for simple authenticity in terms of the art I’m taking in. I want the artist’s truth, Oh explained. “I got a taste of it when working with the Living Theatre. I hope I can host an artistic purity here in Ancram.”

A Smith College alumna, Oh’s first visit to the Berkshire region came this past summer when she was a Playwright in Residence at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, which she found very grounding and empowering as she reestablished who she was as an artist in a new community.

She managed to find time to see her friends Shannon Tyo and Daniel K. Isaac the production of The Chinese Lady at Barrington Stage Company, which she found to be a deeply nuanced, honest, and compelling look at the Asian American experience, “Seeing this play about the white gaze with an all-white audience was amazing. Yes, I identify as queer and as a Korean-American, that’s all true, but I really feel like an ocean that doesn’t have labels. At the end of the day all of us want our humanity honored. I want to be seen as a full rich human being and artist, not a token player.”

“That’s why I love music. I’ve written about real people in my life, real relationships. Music gets to the pure exchange of energy, a sharing and caring,” Oh explained. “That’s why the sleep over will be more music oriented, letting audience in on what these songs are about. I’ll be exposing my vulnerability, the things that are close to my heart, looking at each song as itself. It’s witchcraft, it’s spell casting, it’s a meditation on the heart.”

Asked if sleeping over was mandatory or if audience members were welcome to attend just the concert, Oh replied, “Nothing in this life is mandatory! Honor your own heart and body and mind. Come for the concert and then go home to your bunnies.”

Mosseau pointed out that the sleep over and sleepover shuttle were sold out, but that tickets were still available for the concert portion of the event. This is the culmination of a week’s residency in Ancram for Oh and her collaborators/Love Doctors Kevin Tourigan and Mei Ann Teo. “We invited Diana to be here for the week so that she can create, develop, and tailor the show to the space and the energy of it. Residency activity is something we’ve been eager to introduce, and we’re thrilled Diana is with us to launch the initiative. We’re looking to offer this kind of residency to other artists moving forward.”

Oh’s ultimate invitation: Let’s get weird and break it open. Put your pen down and let’s connect. Come and get free and at the end of the night we’re all friends.”

Reservations are required for the Sleepover and The Sleepover Shuttle. Overnighters should bring their own sleeping bags. For tickets and travel information: www.ancramoperahouse.org or call 518-329-0114.




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