The Cal Poly Music Department will host the 21st RSVP ballet, titled “Evangeline,” at the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center (PAC) Tuesday, May 31 and Wednesday, June 1 at 8 p.m.
“It’s a ballet, but it is not a ballet in the traditional sense,” Cal Poly sound design and theory composition professor Antonio Barata said.
The ballet deviates from traditional classical music and instead employs more electronically-made sounds, straying from the typical.
Not only is the performance an unconventional ballet with its wide variety of sounds, but it is also a combination of two diverse plots — the Acadian Deportation in present-day Canada and a love story between two people from opposing religions.
“The ballet gets its name from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, ‘Evangeline,'” Barata said.
The performance brings the audience back to the 18th century, during the time of the Acadian Deportation, when the separation from home and loved ones were two hardships grappled with.
According to Barata, it’s a tale of the difficulties of a young couple — specifically a Jew and a Muslim who find love in each other despite opposition and apprehension of interfaith betrothal and marriage of their respective religions.
Every year, the student production ensemble RSVP puts on a different show, but one aspect has remained the same: the entirely student-composed music. According to Barata, Cal Poly students composed the music for this year’s performance as well as in years past.
“There’s no live orchestra,” he said. “It’s all electronic.”
What also makes this year’s performance noteworthy is the relevance of the issues addressed in the performance.
“There’s a scene where the actors (refugees) drop dead on stage, and it relates to today because it’s very timely — taking a look at the horrors and political issues that have been part of the Middle East,” Barata said.
While the show will address political issues, Barata said there’s more to the performance than the matter at hand.
Specifically, Barata said the symbolic meanings of the keys the refugees use in the play will show the auditorium that there’s more to this ballet than just the dance aspects, there’s emotional ones too.
“They break the wall,” Barata said.
In theater terms, breaking the fourth wall means interacting with the audience in some way — whether it’s acknowledging them, or in the scene for “RSVP XXI: Evangeline,” holding keys up to their faces.
“It’s very intimate because the audience is very close to the actors,” Barata said.
Overall, “RSVP XXI: Evangeline” will incorporate dance, electronic sound and the complexities of love and politics into one performance.
Tickets are $14 and available on the PAC website. Student rush tickets will be sold for $10 one hour before the show with a PolyCard.