Squonk Opera

Squonk Opera, from Pittsburgh, is a group of artists that performs opera and theater but also include modern music and audience participation. Squonk will be performing at spark! Mesa's Festival of Creativity, March 13-17 at Mesa Arts Center [Mesa Arts Center photo]

Mesa Arts Center photo

As staff at the Mesa Arts Center began preparation for its second “Festival of Creativity,” MAC executive director Cindy Ornstein said the group was looking for something to pique their interests — a spark, of sorts.

That was it: the word “spark!” — exclamation point included — was exactly what they were looking for.

With many schools and local colleges on Spring Break this week, MAC is inviting residents from the East Valley and beyond to come and enjoy five days of fun and imagination at the spark! Mesa’s Festival of Creativity.

Taking place from March 13 to March 17 — running from noon to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday — the festival, now in its second year, was given the “spark!” name in an attempt to reflect both the content of the festival and to attract a broader audience.

Ornstein, explained that they wanted a name that was more exciting for this year. The staff started to brainstorm and the theme of “sparks” that start a fire and ideas started to become the main focus of the new brand.

Apart from the new brand, the staff wanted for visitors to not only have a chance to see art and performance, but also to be part of the experience and explore their imaginations. When the planning for the festival started last spring, one of the main things staff wanted was to bring in artists and activities that are innovating.

Some of the featured performers include Squonk Opera, Compagnia TPO and ERTH. Squonk Opera, from Pittsburgh, is a group of artists that performs opera and theater but also include modern music and audience participation. The group will start its performances by parading down the shadow walk of the center. Squonk’s “Go RoadShow” is a musical spectacle on a 34-foot long monster truck with a truck-horn calliope, walls made of rotors and built-in instruments that includes rotating pianos and spinning drums.

Compagnia TPO is a visual theater company from Italy that’s bringing its “Kindur: The Adventurous Life of Icelandic Sheep” show to the festival. The show follows the adventures of brave sheep through the landscapes, seasons and fairy tales of Iceland. The company’s use of multimedia technology allows for both the performers and the audience to have a more interactive experience. The walls and floor come to life with images, music, sounds and colors that makes the show feel like “paintings in movement.”

ERTH is from Australia and brings its “Dinosaur Petting Zoo.” The show has giant dinosaur puppets, stilt-walkers, inflatable environments, music and sound effects. The audience will be shown and learn about different creatures that lived during prehistoric times.

Wise Fool Productions from Santa Fe, N.M., will also be present with a show that includes circus performers, stilt-walkers and giant puppets. The show was inspired by court jesters of medieval times that will inform about the important issues of the times through humor and entertainment. Issues that Wise Fool put up in their show range from taking care of the environment to immigration.

The festival will also feature other events by presenters from across the Valley.

Students from ASU’s College of Technology will bring their own Rube Goldberg machine. The machine performs simple tasks in very complex ways and will also teach visitors about the STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — area of studies. The Vessel Project, which is a theater performance that includes music, visual and theater art, will be presented by ASU graduates as well.

Chandler-based Building Bonanza Educational will also be on hand, hosting a LEGO community sculpture building project and a make-your-own percussion instrument activity.

A 3D chalk mural, hip-hop/spoken word stage, and exhibited art for purchase will also be featured.

The center will also be decorated through the process of “yarn bombing,” which is decorating the environment by knitting and crocheting it with yarn. The goal was to give the event a “Dr. Seuss” look and feel and differentiate it from other festivals in the Valley.

The spark! festival is for all ages and is mostly free, aside from a $5 fee for a few performances, available food, and items for purchase. For more information visit www.mesaartscenter.com/spark.

If you go

What: spark! Mesa’s Festival of Creativity

When: March 13-7

Where: Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St.

Information: www.mesaartscenter.com/spark.

• Abel, a senior studying journalism at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is an intern for the East Valley Tribune. Contact him at (480) 898-6514 or tribintern@evtrib.com.

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