By Meredith Deliso
Issue Project Room is taking a chance on a creation myth.
Dave Nuss, drummer for the improvisational No Neck Blues Band, has spent the last five years working on “Original Innocence,” a rock opera written with playwright Eric Sanders that puts a contemporary spin on Adam and Eve.
“It’s a new creation myth for our time,” said Sanders. “We wanted to retell Genesis in a way that we could connect with, that wasn’t so didactic.”
Major departures from that tale include the incorporation of Eastern spiritual concepts of liberation, a more feminist interpretation, where the world-saving sacrifice is performed by a woman, and sin itself championed not as corruption, but salvation.
“It doesn’t mean we’re advocating some sort of bacchanal love piece. It’s a middle way that’s being proposed here,” said Nuss, who knows something about finding a middle ground with religion — he grew up in a very evangelical Christian community in Corpus Christi, Texas, during the 1980s. “The Christian religion, as I was taught it, was about a war of opposites,” he said. “That’s not where I’m at right now.”
Writing it was almost the easy part; as for performing it, the opera’s proven to be too much of a departure for the experimental musician, who’s known more for heady, free-form pieces than devotional rock songs.
“I’m thought of as an avant-garde musician, and so when people heard the renditions of these songs, it was a surprise,” said Nuss, who plays drums in the show. “Some said no, but Issue is willing to take a chance.”
Curator Lawrence Kumps admitted that there “is a bit of a risk,” but added that “Issue Project Room should be able to support these projects.”
And, given the subject matter, Nuss’s most-recent work may also be his most accessible.
“This is a story of life. Everyone has these experiences,” said Nuss. “It’s a connecting point on a heart level, rather than a head.”
“Original Innocence” at Issue Project Room [232 Third St. at Third Avenue in Gowanus, (718) 330-0313], March 25 at 8 pm and 10 pm. Tickets $12. For info, visit www.issueprojectroom.org.