Whether in Orvieto, Italy at Corpus Domini (where Colombari established a new tradition of theater) or in New York City at the time of Christmas—re-imagines the medieval mystery play for the 21st century. It is community theater in the deepest sense in its celebration of the abundance of human presence in global and local communities. In New York STRANGERS radically mines the Christmas story by extending the frame of the popular Second Shepherds’ Play as retold in vernacular American slang. In Orvieto the piece mines the dialogue between human and divine through a frame of 5 or 6 plays played out in vernacular Italian.
Just as the medieval cathedral engaged the talents of countless artists and artisans, so the architectural frame of STRANGERS freely incorporates a vast array of artists: 1) original music featuring gospel, jazz and classical; 2) visual artists interested in performance; 3) text from the cannon, James Weldon Johnson, Zora Neale Hurston, Dante, Pope John Paul II, Walt Whitman, et al; 4) text from contemporary writers, the likes of Eric Ehn, Carl Hancock Rux, Mark Stevick, et al.
STRANGERS AND OTHER ANGELS in New York, or STRANIERI E ALTRI ANGELI in Orvieto involves a vast array of performers: opera singers, actors, step-dancing and tap-dancing angels, instrumentalists including steel drummers, accordionists, trombonists, guitarists, etc and designers interested in
STRANGERS AND OTHER ANGELS takes the play to its audience in the streets, winding inside and outside, using the city as stage, gathering the crowd along the way as it progresses. The performance culminates with a celebratory dance, involving the entire company and audience and signaling the arrival of food and drink for all to share.
Ultimately STRANGERS aims to create a new holiday tradition by ushering in the abundance of the season while challenging its commercialization with a performance that is a gift in itself.