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January 7, 2019

Unlocking the Mind and Emotion of the Audience

By Michael Kondziolka

A Note from UMS Programming Director Michael Kondziolka…

Seven years ago, when UMS presented Einstein on the Beach, director Robert Wilson told me about the extraordinary artistic vision of Greek artist Dimitris Papaioannou (pronounced pop-eye-ah-new). Since that time, I’ve kept an eye on his work and finally got to experience it live when I saw The Great Tamer last year in Basel, Switzerland.

I immediately knew that we had to figure out a way to bring him to Ann Arbor, as his work fits so perfectly into our mission of connecting artists and audiences in uncommon and engaging experiences.

The Great Tamer

The company’s performances and the works that they create live at the intersection of physical theater, visual art-making, and the circus arts…and the power of his images unlocks the mind and emotion of the audience in unexpected and fully engaging ways.

One of the things I like most about the work is that it puts the audience in the driver’s seat of making meaning out of it. The work is not “complete” by itself; it depends on the audience’s interpretation of it as much as it does on the artist’s intent.

And so…seven years after that conversation with Robert Wilson, we have finally been able to make it happen. It wasn’t easy — we had to put together a small cohort of like-minded partners who were willing to take a chance on a spectacular artist whose work is not well known in North America. UMS, along with UCLA and a contemporary arts presenter in Montreal, is bringing Dimitris Papaiannou’s collective of masterful Greek theater artists to North America for the first time.

For over two decades, we have worked to bring meaningful and interesting international theater work to Michigan audiences: Sophiline Cheam Shapiro/Khmer Arts Ensemble’s Pamina Devi in 2007, from Cambodia; Sogolon and Handspring Puppet Companies’s Tall Horse, from Mali and South Africa in 2005; Simon McBurney and Complicite’s The Elephant Vanishes (and several other titles!) from the UK and Japan in 2004…the list goes on and on.

I hope you will join us for another moment of discovery as we kick off our Winter 2019 season with The Great Tamer, which runs in the Power Center on Friday, January 18 and Saturday, January 19.

Personally, I can’t wait.

The Great Tamer


Michael is the Director of Programming at UMS.