Famed choreographer Joe Goode has every reason to be excited about the return of his amazing show “Traveling Light” to San Francisco’s historic 19th-century Old Mint.
“It’s a funhouse journey through this amazing old mystery building,” he enthuses. “The Mint has vaults with walls two feet thick, spacious ballrooms, and this beautiful open-air courtyard. The sky is completely open, and you’re out there with these beautiful high walls. It’s like being in a grand European plaza.”
But that’s just part of the physical component of a compelling dance and theater work that Goode and lighting designer Jack Carpenter have created to take audience members on a journey guided by light, movement and sound.
Enhanced by Jay Cloidt’s sonic landscapes and Wendy Sparks’ costumes, the piece explores the ramifications of present-day economic chaos and ecological ruin in a building that Goode characterizes as a “temple of money.”
“Standing in the courtyard, watching one group of dancers, you can see through the windows into the three other dances happening in the other room,” he says. “As your group travels from one site to another, you can also watch the other groups watching the performers. Everyone begins and ends in a different place, which is why some people return multiple times to experience the journey from different vantage points. It’s a mathematical puzzle for the performers, who zip from room to room on a stopwatch while audience members watch characters step away and then suddenly reappear in other rooms.”
Goode initially envisioned a performance in a warehouse that would explore different settings of light. But when he happened upon the Mint, the piece involved into an exploration of an amazing shrine of capitalism that has fallen into disuse.
There will be 27 performances, running Wednesday through Aug. 1. Each can accommodate approximately 180 audience members and 15 dancers, divided into four groups. (Fire marshals strictly control attendance).
It’s the longest run Goode has ever mounted in San Francisco. Since last year’s shorter first run was such a hit that many people were turned away, Goode hopes he can now accommodate everyone who wants to see “Traveling Light.”
“I feel in part I’m telling the story of the ghosts of people in the building whose lives may have been affected by this temple of money. It’s almost a metaphor for America. The characters are either ordinary or slightly extraordinary people who have fallen on one side or another of this monied paradigm, and neither side is particularly satisfied. This creates the potential for a lot of humor, which is always something that I like.”
IF YOU GO
Presented by Joe Goode Performance Group
Where: Old Mint, 88 Fifth St. (at Mission Street), S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays and Sundays; 8 and 10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays; closes Aug. 1
Tickets: $30 to $44