BY SHARON EBERSON
Don’t let the new name confuse you. Or maybe the old one did.
RealTime Arts – the former RealTime Interventions – is back with a “community based” performance, premiering PEOPLE OF PITTSBURGH II: The Constellationist at Attack Theater Studios in Lawrenceville July 12-16. The show is described as “a live audio/theatrical experience illustrating the life of Mary Carey, “a living ray of light and a cornerstone of the community of Braddock.”
Launched in 2022 with The Alchemist of Sharpsburg, PEOPLE OF PITTSBURGH is the umbrella title for the company’s series of “theatrical portraits, created by multidisciplinary artist teams, celebrating the personalities, lived experiences and personal histories of extraordinary, ordinary Pittsburghers.”
Molly Rice and Rusty Thelin explained that “RealTime Interventions” was created when a name was needed for a grant application, and they settled on the apropos RealTime, with “R” for Rice, “T” for Thelin).
“For us, ‘interventions’ borrows from the language of social work, mental health, and community building — in those worlds, ‘interventions’ are programs or actions where practitioners (in our case, artists) connect with members of the community, to improve quality of life in some way.”
Admitting that the name turned out to be “a bit clunky,” and wanting to be known as “a live performing arts company that could pop up anytime, anywhere, not fully constricted by theater-based conventions and inclusive of other art forms,” the name is now RealTime Arts.
The Constellationist is conceived and written by Rice, teaming with fiber artist, sculptor and newly-appointed Arts Commissioner for the City of Pittsburgh Christine Bethea, with Thelin directing. The artistic team includes Cheryl Cappezzuti (original puppets), Deavron Dailey (environmental design) and Bayley Brown (sound design).
The ensemble of performers who tell Mary’s story include her neighbors, friends and family members. The community collaboration that forms The Constellationist, based on interviews with Mary and her loved ones, is said to be “part variety show, part listening party, part community gathering.”
Among the “devising” ensemble is Sanford-Mark Barnes, a longtime jazz trumpet player and Mary’s neighbor, who participated in the 2015 “Saints Tour,” a RealTime and Bricolage collaboration also in Braddock.
“She is the embodiment of what a neighbor and a community person is supposed to be here in Braddock,” Barnes said of Mary. “She knows the culture of Braddock, she knows the history of Braddock, and she will do anything that she can to help everybody get to where they need to get to. This show is honoring her and bringing a legacy for her and her kids, grandkids, family members, to really get a perspective of how other people see Mary. And I think that is absolutely beautiful and a wonderful thing.”
The devising ensemble, along with Barnes, includes Lish Danielle and her children Azriel and Elliott Rose Hutchins, Erika Denae J, Travis Matuke, Calise Cowans-Rini, and Jasmariah, Mary’s 10-year-old grandniece. The show includes original songs and music by Barnes, Erika Denae J and Travis Matuke, with Aerin Addams. The show also features Michele Bankole, who understudies Erika Denae J for Saturday’s performance.
Devising ensemble member Elliott Rose Hutchin created this animated video storyboard, among the compositions woven into The Constellationist.
“Mary is a ‘we’ person,” Rice said of the sprawling production. “When we approached her as the subject of our next PEOPLE OF PITTSBURGH, Mary said, ‘You can write a play about me – but it has to include everybody.’ So we designed a creation process that includes … everybody.”
TICKETS AND DETAILS
PEOPLE OF PITTSBURGH II: The Constellationist will be presented at Attack Theatre Studios, 212 45th St., Lawrenceville, July 12-16, with a discounted preview on July 11 and discounts for people living in the Braddock area, zip code 15104 (shuttle available for Braddock residents on July 15 and 16). https://realtimeinterventions.thundertix.com/events/214243 Note: The show deals with adult themes; for content warnings, contact email@example.com.