Show focuses on self-awareness

Sarah Pressley

Sometimes we take charge of our lives and sometimes we only watch them go by.

“I Witness,” a new dance production by Tutto Theatre Company, explores the contradictions between being a participant in your life and only being a witness to it.

“‘I Witness’ is about being and seeing and being seen and a person’s journey through the world and the perspective they choose to take at any moment in life,” said Jennifer Micallef, one of the show’s choreographers.

The three choreographers who worked on the contemporary dance production, which incorporates spoken word, received inspiration from different periods in their lives, when they felt themselves witnessing rather than living.

“I felt like at some points I was either witnessing myself and not actually taking action on [my life], or being witnessed by someone else,” said Amanda Oakley, one of the show’s choreographers and a UT graduate. “I felt that certain aspects of my life at that point [when the production was created], I wasn’t taking control or I was avoiding seeing what was going on and kind of witnessing myself, rather than being myself.”

Throughout their creative process, the dancers and actors involved were able to interpret the concepts and put their own personal meanings into the show as well.

“I was going through a grieving process, having just lost a family member that I was really close with,” said dancer Randi Turkin. “So for me, the concept of witnessing lied very close to my heart because I watched this person pass away.”

Actress Lizzie Biggers, who speaks throughout the show, also made a personal connection with the production. She said the creative process within the show helped her learn to stay present in her own reality.

“The last year of my life, I’ve been a very inactive participant,” Biggers said. “‘I Witness,’ to me is really about living in the moment and being yourself in that moment.”

The dancers and actors involved in the show said they didn’t find it hard to portray such emotional concepts on stage.

“You kind of have to wear your heart on your sleeve,” Oakley said. “For a lot of artists, it’s their release.”

For Biggers, it goes past a release and becomes something more that she can’t help but display.

“I think part of being an artist is being able to access that part of yourself at all times,” Biggers said. “It’s our responsibility.”

Micallef said many college students could benefit from the message of the show since they are already in a time of life exploration.

“It’s relatable particularly to college students because we deal with some pedestrian issues and some existential issues and some universal things,” Micallef said. “There is a world that leaves with you when you leave the show.”

WHAT: “I Witness”
WHERE: The Blue Theatre, 916 Springdale Road
WHEN: Aug. 20 -Sept. 4, Thursdays-Saturdays 8 p.m.
COST: Fridays and Saturdays $15; Thursdays “Name Your Own price with Donation of Non-Perishable Canned Food Item.” Price without donation $12