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6 Degrees premieres POP DEMO a dance/theatre experience by Toni Leago Valle, at the Midtown Arts and Theatre Center Houston (MATCH), September 15-23, 2023. POP DEMO is a blend of political commentary, offbeat theatre, aerial, contemporary dance, and visual projections, set in a stylistic Pop Art décor. POP DEMO provides a historical perspective through cartoons of how the ideas of popular democracy, extremism, and propaganda have shaped and warped American political and cultural beliefs, ultimately attempting to overthrow democracy. Composer George Heathco’s music is played live by a 5-piece ensemble, George Heathco, and the Anti-Defamation Orchestra. Pop Art costume designs are by Judy Masliyah and Toni Valle, and lighting design by Hudson Davis. Performers include Tempest McLendon, Carlos Perez, Mia Pham, Travis Prokop, Michelle Reyes, Haley Shaw, Davis Stumberg, Nick T’Vegan, and Elizabeth Woodson.
POP DEMO embodies the surreal world of political cartoons come alive in a 1920’s Speakeasy (a time period where minority rule dictated public life) POP DEMO delves into the distortion of reality for political gain; political cartoons exist to affirm the beliefs of the viewer, regardless of facts. “Current Politics feels unreal,” remarks Valle, “a crazy universe of bigger than life personalities, name calling and theatrics, a perpetual stage in front of a camera parading an onslaught of disinformation to the public, but with very real consequences in our lives. I wanted to mirror this scenario by creating the bizarre feeling of stepping into a comic strip.” The audience enters the colorful world of the <em>Pop Demo Club</em> – barrels for tables, wooden chairs, a poker table, brightly colored aerial apparatus. Patrons have the option to be seated at a barrel table for an immersive experience or against the wall for a more traditional proscenium view.
From the Parkland Shooting to the War on Disney, POP DEMO unmasks the heart of propaganda through art – the deliberate biased presentation of issues and politicians.
POP DEMO is funded in part by the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance and Dance Source Houston’s Groundwork Grant program.