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Actor returns home to Gainesville for ‘this hour forward’

North Hall High School graduate to perform original work

POSTED: January 30, 2014 1:00 a.m.

The last time Dahlonega’s Ryan Conarro was on a local stage was in 1998. At the time, he was a student at North Hall High School and he performed with the Gainesville Theatre Alliance in “Our Town” and “West Side Story.”

Since then, Conarro graduated from New York University, moved to Juneau, Alaska, to join the Perseverance Theatre as a company member and worked with middle and high school students as a teaching artist. He also traveled to Mexico, India and the United Arab Emirates with the international company Theatre Mitu as a four-year ensemble member.

This weekend, he is bringing his experience back to Gainesville for a display of his original performance installation “this hour forward.” Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the University of North Georgia’s Performance Lab in the Continuing Education/Performing Arts Center on UNG’s Gainesville campus, at 3820 Mundy Mill Road in Oakwood. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at gainesvilletheatrealliance.org.

“In terms of content, the piece is an examination of marriage and identity in America today,” Conarro said. “There were a couple of things that inspired me: my little brother in Atlanta was preparing for a big wedding, and at the same time, the Supreme Court was making a decision on the Defense of Marriage Act last spring.

“I was interested in the counterpoints between those two things.”

The show is a “multi-sensory” experience blending live performance, video projections, photographs, songs and spoken word in an effort to explore the themes of identity, love and marriage in America, Conarro said.

“It connects to larger questions about identity and how we accept each other and allow each other to exist and grow and change,” he said. “It is not a piece of autobiographical theater. Instead it uses performance, video and photos to meditate on some of these questions.”

Conarro attributes much of his success to his early experiences with the Gainesville Theatre Alliance, which is a collaboration between the University of North Georgia, Brenau University, theater professionals and the Northeast Georgia community. In addition to his show, he will be a guest lecturer in theater classes.

“I think GTA is a really formidable and impressive cultural organization, and they do some really important work,” he said. “I’m really grateful for that, and I’m just psyched to be here.”

After the conclusion of “this hour forward” Conarro will travel to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates for a performance with Theatre Mitu.


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