Liss Fain explores meanings of truth

Put 10 people in a room and ask them to describe something they’ve just seen. Chances are you’ll get 10 different answers.

This was the concept that piqued the interest of choreographer Liss Fain for her new experimental piece, “The False and the True Are One,” with Liss Fain Dance, playing at Theater Artaud this weekend.

Set to a reading of excerpts from award-winning short-story writer Lydia Davis, the piece is based on the premise that our reality — what we see, hear and perceive — is greatly influenced by our perspective — in this case, literally.

Audience members can choose to be right down on the roomy Theater Artaud stage, observing the four separate groups of dancers in close proximity.

They can also meander from one group to another, gaining a different angle on the story being told and on the dancers’ movements. Or, they can sit in the theater seats, observing the stage below.

“Usually the choreographer says, ‘this is what you’re going to see,’” Fain says. “In this piece we’ve decided what is going to be on the stage and how it will be lit, but you will have the options of where to see it. It’s more like an art gallery where people walk in and out, spend a little bit of time close up, choose what they want to see and how long they want to stay.”

Speaking the dialogue is actress Jeri Lynn Cohen, who appears with Word for Word, the theater company that recites entire books including all the “he said” and “she said” printed words.

Composer Dan Woll’s musical score and Matthew Anataki’s set design create an environmental backdrop, but the rhythm for the dances is provided by Davis’ words.

“What I did was use her cadence, the way she structures her sentences,” Fain says. “Davis’ writing is very circular. I wanted to reflect the circularity and pull in the emotional part of her work.”

Fain uses excerpts from 10 of Davis’ stories, including “New Year’s Resolution,” “Her Mother’s Mother,” “A Second Chance” and “This Condition.”

“She takes it to the extreme,” Fain adds. “She’s witty, fascinating, very sparse, odd, very moving at times, and sad. There are so many different aspects to her work that lend themselves to making dance.

“This is my first experimental piece,” Fain says. “I really wanted to push myself to try something different and this definitely does that.”

IF YOU GO

The False and the True Are One

Presented by Liss Fain Dance

Where: Z Space, Theater Artaud, 450 Florida St. (at 17th Street), San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. today-Saturday

Tickets: $12.50 to $25

Contact: www.lissfaindance.org; www.brownpapertickets.com

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