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14: A Message of Hope

by: Kathleen Petty – June 2, 2016
Originally Published by San Antonio Magazine

Roberto Prestigiacomo knows he can’t protect his 14-year-old daughter from everything.

From small things like broken hearts to major issues like terror threats, the producing artistic director of AtticRep, which is celebrating its 10th season, knows the love of a father can only go so far in insulating his child from a dangerous world—especially in this post-9/11 era. But as an artist, Prestigiacomo says, he wanted to offer a message of hope. “There are some dangers we cannot control—from violence to global warming,” he says. “As an artist, I can do something.”

The “something” he conceived will be on stage at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts June 9-19. Known as 14, the performance uses dance and aerial performance to metaphorically tell the story of a child’s first 14 years of life, all spent growing up in America after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Prestigiacomo came up with the idea years ago while watching his daughter Sofia on the playground. Swinging and jumping on equipment, he noticed she and the other kids interacted and learned from one another without even talking. He applied that idea to his writing and put together a performance that first debuted six years ago (and was then called 8). The show has since been added to and adapted to depict the challenges a child faces in the first 14 years of life. The setting, a playground, is a metaphor for life, and the main character, Maia, faces obstacles on the playground just like all children face challenges, be it making friends on the first day of school or transitioning into the teenage years. “It’s a metaphorical translation of life,” says Prestigiacomo, who is also a professor at Trinity University.

Julia Langenberg, director of Aerial Horizon performance troupe, is choreographing the aerial components in 14, an addition for this year’s adaptation, and says the show tells a clear story while also leaving room for interpretation by the audience. “It’s a very abstract show, but it’s very impactful and meaningful,” she says.

Along with dancers and aerial performers, 14 features video projection and mapping created by Aesop Studio, an Italian and German company. The message Prestigiacomo wants other parents to take away from the performance is that while the world is dangerous, it’s also still a place where hope and joy can prevail. “Despite it all, (our children) are still in a world where they can make decisions and they can choose joy,” he says.

14, June 9-19, Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, 100 Auditorium Circle, 210-223-8624

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