NW New Works 2017: Nikola Tesla Projekt Jun 7, 2017

by jayme

NW New Works 2017: Nikola Tesla Projekt

Gino Jevdjevic (with Amy Denio and Matty Noble) of Kultur Shock and Tony-nominated director Wilson Milam bring The Light to OtB — a new story of Nikola Tesla’s origins and exodus, told with Balkan ethnic melodies, electronic and industrial sounds, and dance.

In this new work, Tesla’s story is told in all its tragedy and grandeur, playing out as a turning point in the never-ending strife between Prometheus (advocate of humanity) and Zeus (enforcer of conformity) and as a reminder of the internal struggle of the refugee between time and place. The Light focuses on the struggle from the point of view of the refugee, rather than the more typical outsider perspective of the Western world; the refugee must choose between chasing time — advancing and growing with society — or staying loyal to a place that has become isolated from time.

These conflicts are physicalized with dance and the audience hears them in the disharmony of ethnic Balkan melodies played with industrial and electronic sounds. The abbreviated version presented at NWNW focuses on the drama of Tesla’s birth and his decision to leave his homeland. The full-length version of The Light explores Tesla’s struggle with Edison’s repressive profiteering, the FBI’s debilitating surveillance, and Tesla’s lonely death in room 3327 of the New Yorker Hotel.


Kultur Shock is the Seattle-based gypsy punk band led by Jevdjevic that combines Balkan folk music with punk, metal, and art rock. Active since 1996, with members hailing from Bosnia, Bulgaria, and the United States, the band has performed over 800 shows throughout the U.S. and Europe. Their latest album is 2014’s ‘IX’.

Nikola Tesla (1856 – 1943) was a Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist who is best known for his contributions to developing the alternating current (AC) electricity supply system (the basis for modern life with electricity as we know it). After emigrating to the United States he worked for a short time at Edison Machine Works in New York City before striking out on his own. A prolific inventor and engaging public speaker, his work fell into obscurity until 1960 when the General Conference on Weights and Measures named the standard unit of magnetic flux density the "tesla" in his honor. (We can also thank Elon Musk for bringing the name into more frequent use in recent times.)


Not only does The Light assemble one of the largest casts in this year’s NW New Works but it also includes a 7-piece brass band and members of Dunava, the Seattle-based women's vocal ensemble specializing in the a cappella folk music of Eastern Europe.


See Nikola Tesla Projekt, Vanessa Goodman/Action at a Distance, Waxie Moon, and Kaitlin McCarthy perform this weekend (June 10-11) in the Mainstage Showcase at NWNW! 


Get tickets
Learn more about Kultur Shock
Read a fascinating history of Tesla in comic form by The Oatmeal