For the Kilbanes, A.C.T.’s ‘Weightless’ is a marriage made in music heaven

©EmilySevinPhoto_Weightless207Promotional_12-07-2017_1046_edited
Oakland-based band “The Kilbanes” are transferring their critically acclaimed production of “Weightless” from San Francisco’s Z Space to the Strand Theater. (Emily Sevin photo)

Like so many artists who marry, musicians Kate Kilbane and Dan Moses met, made beautiful music together, fell in love as a result, and are now creating shows all over the Bay Area.

Well, it didn’t quite happen like that, at all. The falling in love part happened first, and then the beautiful music collaboration showed up later.

“We very carefully entered a creative partnership and knew it was going to be stressful,” said Kilbane. “We both bring different skills to the table. Dan is a conservatory-trained musician with many years of studying music, and I trained as a theatre director. Our roles have blended over time as we continue to learn from each other.”

Kilbane and Moses, who makeup the Oakland-based theatrical rock band “The Kilbanes,” are beyond busy, but for the couple, that’s nothing new. There are commissions, world premieres, children’s shows to write, other gigs to lock down and life to live. Yet a hugely important milestone, opening a show at the Strand Theater in San Francisco, is thrilling beyond belief.

“Weightless,” a rock opera created by Kilbane and Moses that saw its premiere at Z Space, dives into the story of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses,” the ancient myth that the duo pushes from Latin to Rock Opera. Z Space’s production, which was co-produced with piece by piece productions, is now doing the Bay Area version of moving from a downtown space to Broadway. The original cast, which were part of that original March 2018 production, have all returned for the American Conservatory Theater remounting.

For the couple, moving to a bigger space comes with a compromise. What worked in a smaller, more intimate venue may not necessarily translate when transferring into a bigger space with more bells and whistles. Despite those challenges, the ability to rethink the entire production was thrilling.

“’Weightless’ is this non-traditional show, halfway between a concert and a theatre, and Z Space is this whimsical, in-between, quirky space,” said Moses. “How we can take this non-traditional piece in a more traditional space was an exciting challenge for us. We needed to really explore that, and it’s been great and so much fun.”

Speaking to both Kilbane and Moses, it becomes quite clear how much in sync they are with aspects of their collaboration, yet the rhythms they’ve created came with plenty of trial and error at the onset. Not every moment of their creative partnership was rosy, but it’s paying off in huge dividends at present.

Those early challenges had so much to do with figuring out what each partner needed. There were certainly times when each would individually work on something, and the thrill of sharing the new piece with each other was deflated a bit due to a lukewarm response.

“One of the massive blessings of being married is that we learned to collaborate in explicit ways,” said Kilbane. “I might be writing a song all day and then excited to play it for Dan, and his first response might have been neutral. We’ve learned to help each other through the process, and I’d even tell him that this is what I want from you.

“In those tough moments, we’ve figured out how to do our work better together.”

“Weightless” is a play that focuses on two women and is described as “part concert, part play and part dream, which weaves together ancient myth with evocative indie rock to tell a story of sisterhood, love, betrayal and rebirth.” For both Moses and Kilbane, it took lots of tinkering to find the heart and narrative of the piece. But now, after building their show in rock clubs and figuring out what story they wished to tell, they are thrilled to share that story in an even grander venue.

“This feels like the culmination of an artistic journey and we continue to explore it with this entirely new reimagining,” said Kilbane. “It’s like we’ve come to the end of a very specific and beautiful journey with our team.

“We are so fiercely proud of this piece, and it’s an incredible gift to tell the story about two women who find their voice in the world. It’s wonderful to reimagine a world that feels truer to who they are, and we continue to tell their story even when the world wants to silence them.”

WHAT TO KNOW IF YOU GO

American Conservatory Theater presents “Weightless”
Produced by Z Space and piece by piece productions
Featuring Kate Kilbane and Dan Moses (The Kilbanes)
With Lila Blue, Julia Brothers, Dan Harris, and Joshua Pollock
Directed by Becca Wolff
Through May 12th
The Strand Theater
1127 Market Street, San Francisco, CA
Running time: 70 minutes, no intermission
Tickets range from $15 – $70
For tickets, call (415) 749-2228 or visit www.act-sf.org

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