Torn Space Theater’s annual early harvest ritual at Silo City

and the sun sets in golden circles

Written and Directed by Dan Shanahan and Melissa Meola
Designed by Torn Space Theater
Part of the 2021 RESPONSE: Performance Series

Dates: August 6-22, Friday-Sunday, rain dates each Thursday between weekends: 8/12, 8/19, All shows 7:30 PM
Location: Silo City – 85 Silo City Row Buffalo, NY 14203

See the Digital Program

Every Summer since 2013, Torn Space has designed a site-based performance on the grounds of the expansive and majestic Silo City. In 2021 TST explored new terrain with their original work, and the sun sets in golden circles.

Engage in competition and cooperation with the society and the community as Torn Space repositions field day events and confronts the questions:

Where do we come from?
Why are we here?
Where are we going?

Audiences collectively view the opening ceremonies on the newly designed soccer pitch at Silo City, be broken up into groups of 25 to experience individual stations of field games while listening to the history of the universe, enjoy occasional stop off’s at beverage areas, and then come together around the magnificent cottonwood tree at dusk for the final story. We ask that audience members wear shades of white, off-white or grey. Audience members will occasionally be asked to join a brief tableau with other audience members at the start of each station.  Audience participation is completely voluntary.

Production Team

Director, Writer – Dan Shanahan
Director, Writer – Melissa Meola-Shanahan
Production Manager – Rick Haug
Technical Director – Greg Robertson
Box Office Manager – Anna Seidl
Stage Manager – Carly Weiser
Assistant Stage Manager – Glo McDonald

Technical Team

Video Design – Brian Milbrand
Technical Sound Design – Eric Burlingame
Sound Design – Justin Rowland, Frank Napolski
Master Carpenter – Bob Sturm
Technicians – Zak Noweihed, Daniel Toner, Melissa Carey, Grant Guzek, Patrick Odell
Costume Design – Jessica Wegrzyn
Costume Technician – Lindsay Tripp
Digital Marketing – Holly Kirkpatrick
Graphic Design & Video Documentation – Kyle Marler/ FLATSITTER


  • Marshall Maxwell
  • Carmen Swans
  • Justin Leis
  • Thea Duskin
  • Matthew Rittler
  • Becky Globus
  • Kalub Thompson
  • Deymia Donalson
  • Christine Turturro
  • Sara Wierzba
  • Holly Kirkpatrick

Special Thanks: Rick Smith, Robert Sturm, Kate Gorman, Josh Smith, Ryan McMullen, Irene Rekhviashvilli, Justin Karcher, and The Adam Mickiewicz Library and Dramatic Circle.

Yes, you can take photos!
Post them & tag us: @tornspace @silocity #response-series #goldencircles


About and the sun sets in golden circles

The August rituals at the silos are early harvest festivals.  They represent what has been metaphorically sown and reaped; familially, locally and globally.  They are also meditations on universal themes.

This year’s themes are the innate inclinations for cooperation and competition.  Social biologist E.O. Wilson discusses these tendencies which he believes will never be reconciled. To do so would render us “angelic automatons” or lead to our self destruction.  It is the source both of our angst and our creativity. Yet, if we understand our need to form groups, and the place that cooperation has played in the evolution of life on earth we might better plan and prepare for the future of human habitation on Earth.  If we know the story of where we come from, and what we are, we can better direct the course of where we are going.

The society will tell the tale of the evolution of the universe and life on Earth as the people proceed through a series of ritual games that test the uniquely human ability to read intentions, to learn, assess, evaluate and improve.  The ability to decide whether it is more beneficial to act in self-interest or in the interest of others. And a chance to offer suggestions to the fundamental questions of life.  The winning team will imbue the community with the attributes with which to carry with them into the upcoming year: those of the Hawk, Serpent, or Stag.

In the end, we travel back to the cottonwood tree.  It is there we hear the story of the six mass extinctions of life on earth.  What role will we play now?

Not only are these early harvest festivals a ritual performance – they are also a gathering together of the community.  We want to offer a space to come back to each year and to be part of an ongoing celebration.  You are the ceremony – this is the ritual.  We create an open space for people to come together, to reflect on the past year: what was gained, what was lost?  What has changed and what needs changing, Who has come into our lives and who has left? A space to prepare for the coming year.  A time in mid August – with the summer ending but not yet over.  The days still long and the nights still warm.

If it is your first time joining us, welcome and if you are returning, welcome back. We wish you well in the year that lies ahead.



Green – life, renewal, nature, energy, and environment.

Stag – continuity, prosperity, longevity, and abundance

Serpent – rebirth, transformation, immortality, healing

Hawk – determination, focus, leadership, and clarity

Cottonwood Tree – the sun; afterlife

Rock – The pink granite stones were dug by hand out of the grounds surrounding Star Lake in the Adirondack region of upstate New York. The granite stones represent labor of love. Granite facilitates and maintains balance in relationships and within cooperative groups. Granite supports discretion and diplomacy. Element of water and earth.

Fire – Creation, Destruction, Transformation.

Labyrinth – A symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path.  The labyrinth sculpture is a vertical representation of the three ritual spaces: The large cottonwood tree, the poison garden and the small cottonwood tree.

Season Flags – Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall


Texts Used

Storyteller – Leslie Marmon Silko

The Social Conquest of Earth – EO Wilson

The Meaning of Human Existence – EO Wilson

Evolution, games, and God: the principle of cooperation – Martin Novak and Sarah Coakley

The Evolution of Trust Game –


Related Information