D’Ammassa and Granger return to Black Box with two plays

The Black Box Theatre in downtown Las Cruces, in association with Theatre Dojo, presents an encore performance of the acclaimed show An Iliad, written by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare, performed by actor Algernon D’Ammassa and musician Randy Granger.

The following evening, February 13, the music and storytelling duo will present their first original work together, a play entitled Killing Buddha, written by D’Ammassa with music by Granger. The play premiered at the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival in Salt Lake City, Utah, in August of this year, where it was widely acclaimed and awarded the “Fringe Pick” festival prize.

An Iliad, based on Robert Fagles’s translation of Homer’s epic poem, is a modern retelling of the Trojan War including gods, warriors, their families, and the endless battles of human history with a gripping, contemporary voice. D’Ammassa and Granger play mysterious, homeless storytellers who create the ancient world for an audience using storytelling, a few simple props, and an improvised musical accompaniment on a variety of musical instruments. Theatre Dojo’s production debuted at the Black Box Theatre in 2014 and has since toured to cities
throughout New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, and North Carolina.

Killing Buddha is intended as an unofficial sequel to Peterson and O’Hare’s award-winning play. D’Ammassa explains, “Randy and I play the same storytellers, only this time we interact more. We eat, pray, and sing together, and tell a story from a different part of the world. From Homer’s epic we transition to the folklore of Asia, from the gods of Olympus to a very human Buddha.” The play is based on a legend in which the historical Buddha encounters a serial killer in search of atonement.

In both shows, the storytellers take ancient legends and relate them directly to a modern audience making reference to contemporary issues and themes. “An Iliad is a play about war and human rage,” says D’Ammassa, “Killing Buddha picks up on the theme of rage and violence, and finds its way to a story to about redemption and transformation.”

D’Ammassa is a theatrical actor who has also appeared on film and television. He trained professionally at the Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island and has traveled all over the United States and to Europe as a performer and teacher. In 2006, he founded Theatre Dojo in Los Angeles, California as a multi-disciplinary community combining yoga, meditation, and martial arts with the performing arts. Since 2011, he has worked regularly with the No Strings Theatre Company of Las Cruces, and he teaches at the Creative Media Institute at New Mexico State University.

Randy Granger is a native New Mexican of indigenous ancestry. He is a master of various instruments, combining Native American flute with musical traditions encompassing rock, jazz, mariachi, and more. Based in Las Cruces, he tours the United States as a solo musician and teacher.

All performances will take place at the Black Box Theatre, located at 430 N. Downtown Mall in Las Cruces. The encore performance of An Iliad is on February 12 at 8 p.m., with performances of Killing Buddha on February 13, 19, 20 at 8 p.m., and February 21 at 2:30 p.m. The admission will be $12 or $10 for students and seniors over 65. Reservations can be made by calling the Black Box Theatre at 523-1223 or visiting no-strings.org.

For more information on Theatre Dojo and upcoming performances, see facebook.com/algernoniliad .