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Torn Space's 10th production at Silo City is one for the 'Ages'

Photo of Melissa Meola and Dan Shanahan at Silo City in Buffalo
Jay Moran
After designing 10 Torn Space Theater productions at the site, Melissa Meola and Dan Shanahan possess deep working knowledge of Silo City.

Melissa Meola and Dan Shanahan, founders of Buffalo's Torn Space Theater, are very familiar with the grounds of Silo City. When "Ages" opens tonight, it will be the 10th site-specific production they have designed for the historic site.

Once a collection of abandoned, crumbling grain elevators and storage spaces, Silo City will soon feature residential space that will be in high demand. Contractors are working in earnest in rehabbing some of the structures but it's not the only change. The grounds have undergone a major ecological makeover and will provide a pastoral background for "Ages."

"For this particular project, we've designed the setting to be a park," Shanahan explained.

"We feel the park is one of the true Democratic spaces where different ethnicities, sexualities, socioeconomic existences can overlap within one time and one space and so this production will amplify those themes of finding diverse individuals coexisting in one space while sharing these Universal moments."

Some of the performers in "Ages," many of whom are longtime Torn Space collaborators, will be appear with their children or parents.

"In this Democratic space of the park, we're witnessing perhaps a child taking their first steps and a person who is being supported and taking their last," Meola explained.

"These watershed moments and these simple moments that define our experience and help create our identity and our place on Earth."

Some of the dialogue will center around the work of Carl Dennis, the retired UB professor and winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Various local poets will be reciting his works during the productions which run through August 21. Dennis is expected to read during Saturday's performance.

"I think the most common response is talking about the experience itself and lingering images that stay with them and they sort of ruminate," Meola said when asked about how audiences respond to Torn Space productions.

"It's more of a felt experience that is later analyzed and picked apart."

Those attending performances of "Ages" are asked to dress in flesh tone colors.

"This is an ongoing concept that we work with so the audience is aesthetically connected with the production," said Shanahan. Audience members, he points out, will not be required to participate.

"The audience themselves are essentially existing within a park-like setting so audience seating will be designed (as) park benches for them to sit in or picnic blankets. "

The construction work at Silo City will change how patrons access the production. Parking will be on Ohio St. The audience will enter the grounds through a special gate and will walk through paths surrounded by high grasses and wild flowers, part of the ecological evolution at a place that not long ago was an industrial ruin.

Golf cart rides will be provided for those who have difficult walking.

Monday - Friday, 6 a.m. - 10 a.m.

Jay joined Buffalo Toronto Public Media in 2008 and has been local host for NPR's "Morning Edition" ever since. In June, 2022, he was named one of the co-hosts of WBFO's "Buffalo, What's Next."

A graduate of St. Mary's of the Lake School, St. Francis High School and Buffalo State College, Jay has worked most of his professional career in Buffalo. Outside of public media, he continues in longstanding roles as the public address announcer for the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League and as play-by-play voice of Canisius College basketball.