The Art of Sublime Intimacy
Denny Patterson – The Vital Voice, November 30 2015
St. Louis native Ken Page may be a well-known actor who has made numerous appearances on the stage and screen, but his directing credits are equally impressive. In association with Max and Louie Productions, his latest show, Sublime Intimacy, will be making its world premiere in St. Louis at the Kranzberg Arts Center from December 4-20.
Written and directed by Page, Sublime Intimacy is a remembered tale of five friends: an ex-Hollywood actor, a psychology professor, a painter, an actress and a Broadway musical performer, whose lives were touched and changed forever by their love of the dancer and his dance. Although each character’s story is different, they overlap and intertwine with each other through visual art and dance.
“As I wrote the play, I really wanted it to pose a question to the audience rather than answer it for them,” Page says. “In that, I would say it’s about sublime intimacy. The phrase came out of a conversation I had with a friend of mine about what is the level that exists beyond friendships, beyond relationships. When you think about being in a relationship with somebody, you think of it being great sex and understanding and companionship. But what I found with friends of mine who have been partnered or married for years, in some cases myself, there is some level that is the next level beyond all of that. Sometimes you have relationships where it isn’t sexual but it’s completely, totally intimate.”
“When I started to write the play, I realized it had come out of an idea about people who have had a relationship that wasn’t the norm or didn’t come out of the regular situation,” he continues. “They weren’t dating relationships, they didn’t come out of falling in love necessarily, but they were relationships that had made an imprint on these people for the rest of their lives. It’s about the idea of these five to six people basically who have had relationships based on a level beyond the norm and in our case, their relationships with dancers. That’s how it’s centralized.”
As to why Page wrote Sublime Intimacy, he believes in things coming to you through the universe; that there is always something out there that is wanting and hoping to express itself. There is something saying to write this, that this is something people might want to hear.
“When the opportunity came up, I had mentioned it to a friend of mine, Laura Peters,” Page says. “I talked to her a bit about the idea and she mentioned it to Max and Louie who were looking for a project for their second show. We had a meeting and discussed the idea. Then I really went to work on it. I developed a frame and skeleton with some characters sketched up, but as you do with writing, at least I do, I try to let it tell me what it wants to be. I then go back and work on making sure a story is being told. I try to let it speak to me.”
Playing the role of the dancer is Alfredo Solivan, a professional dancer out of New York who specializes primarily in ballet and modern. He has worked with numerous companies, including the Dance Theatre of Harlem and Intermezzo Dance Company. Sublime Intimacy will be his St. Louis debut.
“I am so happy,” Solivan says. “When Ken Page told me that he was writing a play back in January or February and asked me to do the show, I was thrilled. Absolutely humbled and flattered. St. Louis is a new city for me and I’m really happy to be coming and spending time here. Ken and I worked together last year in a production of Cats and he was an absolute pleasure and sweetheart. I can’t imagine any difference this time around.
This show will also be Solivan’s first time performing in a play.
“I have always done concert dance,” he says. “Going into dance is not like being on stage for two hours trying to hold the audience’s attention. Portraying a character for that long when I’m used to 15 minute pieces is so much more grand.”
Page has always had a love for dance, and throughout his life he has been inspired, surrounded by or supported by dancers.
“Dancers are different in the arts,” Page says. “You have actors and singers, but dancers exist in a very different universe. I’d say the closet thing would probably be classical musicians, because they are so disciplined and they study so much to be able to do what they do. They can’t even begin to do it unless they study and practice, and dancers are like that. But with that comes a mentality, sensibility and a sexuality of sort because they are very physical, always. All of those things come with dance, and my life has been surrounded and involved with people like that ever since I did my first Muny show when I was 18.”
“I lost a lot of my dancer friends due to the AIDS epidemic in New York,” he continues. “So, I wanted to do something to honor them. I wanted to do something that spoke about what their effect is on people and how people in a negative way objectify them, but in a positive way. You go see a ballet or when you talk about ballet dancers, they exist in a world that’s nonverbal. It allows us to put our own fantasies and thoughts onto them and I always think of them as silent interpreters. They don’t speak, and yet, they tell us all of these stories.”
If anyone gains anything from this show, Page truly hopes it is sublime intimacy.
“If you’re with somebody and you haven’t allowed yourself to reach the level of sublime intimacy, not just intimacy but sublime intimacy, do it,” Page says. “It’s worth it. It’s like going on the best ride at the carnival. It looks scary and you’re not sure if you can do it, but it’s worth the experience. You may not do it twice, but once you go on it, you’ll have a great experience that you’ll have for the rest of your life.”
“And if you’re not in a relationship and don’t have someone, I hope this show gives those audience members a memory,” he says in closing. “Like the people in the play, a memory of someone they cherished in their heart all these years. Often times, people who we feel about that way in our life, they’re not the people we end up with. They’re the people we have that moment with.”
Sublime Intimacy will run December 4-20 at the Kranzberg Arts Center. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 1-800-838-3006 or visit maxandlouie.com.