2017-08-10 / Around Town

Honoring Sea and Sun During the Eclipse

By James Merolla


Rebecca Noon and Jed Hancock-Brainerd, front, will lead nearly 100 people in "The Sea Pageant” at Easton’s Beach during the full solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21. It will be the first time since 1979 that a total eclipse of the sun can be viewed in North America. (Photo by Jen Carter) Rebecca Noon and Jed Hancock-Brainerd, front, will lead nearly 100 people in "The Sea Pageant” at Easton’s Beach during the full solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21. It will be the first time since 1979 that a total eclipse of the sun can be viewed in North America. (Photo by Jen Carter) If you walk across Easton’s Beach on Monday, Aug. 21 and see a crowd standing on the sand, facing the water, moving as one in rhythmic unison, you will be witnessing a performance-art celebration of sea and sun.

During that Monday’s solar eclipse, local sun worshipers will stand at 1:30 p.m. for a 100-person choral performance, called “The Sea Pageant,” on First Beach.

Formed by Rhode Islanders from many walks of life, it will use local history to create a new piece of theater for Rhode Island’s most important relative, ancestor, ally and adversary: the ocean.

The brainchild of Rebecca Noon and Jed Hancock-Brainerd, two of the founding members of the relatively unknown Strange Attractor Theatre, the solo performance of movement, song and celebration is designed to honor the ocean and the solar eclipse. It is supported in part through funding from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and a working residency at the Providence Athenaeum. The work has been approved by the Easton’s Beacon Commission.

Noon and Hancock-Brainerd are Newport residents who have produced diverse theater pieces over the past seven years at Attractor Theatre, including many original works.

“I grew up on this beach, and it’s moving to see so many people coming together to celebrate the ocean,” Hancock-Brainerd said. “We all live at the edge of this wild space and the upcoming eclipse reminds me that we also live in outer space.”

Said Noon, “Jed had this crazy idea and then it became our collective project, and now it’s owned by a large community of other people. I never knew there were so many people who wanted to perform for the ocean. But, of course, Rhode Islanders do!”

Visual artists will also be involved in preparing the sandy performance area on the morning of the event. While there will be rehearsed pieces performed in unison, there also will be the opportunity for observers to participate.

Noon, a Newport-based performance artist married to a lifelong Newporter, said she is thrilled to bring living art, especially of this size and magnitude, to the city where she resides.

“We’ve been working with Erik Reis and the Easton’s Beach Commission, as well as gathering the 100 performers, of all ages and all abilities, and teaching them the piece [since May],” Noon said.

Strange Attractor Theatre has created five original full-length works. They are known for “Creating living and unexpected performances that challenge the popular conception of live theater, while engaging new audiences with original, high-caliber, physically devised work,” according to their mission statement on their website.

They live and create in Providence, Philadelphia and Juneau, Alaska.

“The Sea Pageant” will conclude with a picnic starting at 2:30 p.m. that coincides with a total eclipse.

For more information and to see video clips of the rehearsal process, visit www.strangeattractor.org .

Return to top