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Omaha Magazine

Apollon’s Creed

Aug 17, 2014 09:00AM ● By Omaha Magazine Staff
The Apollon is not dinner theater.
What, then, is it? It could be a tea party with the Mad Hatter, the last supper on a soon-to-sink Titanic, a journey to King Arthur’s Court…every show is a unique, immersive, multi-genre amalgam of art and performance.

“Each production is different and specifically designed by the group of artists working on it,” says Ryan Tewell, Co-Creator and Managing Artistic Director, adding that visual art, live music, theatrical performance, and gourmet cuisine are present in every show.

“I spend lots of time trying to explain what The Apollon is,” says Tewell. “We’ve never been able to describe it succinctly, but we encourage people to come see and define it for themselves.

“It’s magical merging different genres of artists, musicians, culinary wizards, theatrical folk, and writers,” adds Communications Director, Sara Ammon. “But it isn’t truly complete until the guest walks in our door and becomes part of the show. >

< Tewell, a one-time accountant, had a quarter-life crisis regarding his career. He was on a safe, sure-thing path. But he wasn’t happy. So, in 2008, Tewell co-founded the Nebraska Writers Collective and started consulting for local arts and culture organizations. During this period Tewell noticed “artificial divisions between creative disciplines.

“So we started this little group of us: a teacher, a writer, an architect, and a chef,” he says. “We talked about what it would look like to make work cooperatively across disciplines that don’t always work together.”

That idea would become The Apollon, expanding from there on its own momentum to include 26 regular artists in the core group.

The Apollon hatches its shows by choosing a theme, then allowing its band of creators to develop an interdisciplinary show around it.

“We bring the artists to the table on day one and give them the freedom to determine exactly what they want to build,” Tewell says. “Each artist from each discipline sees the world in a slightly different way. If you get them all in a room, those slightly different perspectives interact to shape what’s created.”

After research and development, The Apollon’s first show was in 2011, and they performed as a traveling company until landing in 2013 at their striking South Omaha space on 18th and Vinton.

Fittingly, the company is named after the Greek god, Apollo, “the caretaker of the nine muses, who were thought be the inspiration for all creative work,” says Tewell. “We wanted to try and be somewhat of a physical realization, as an art space, of Apollo’s expansive reach.”

July’s show, The Eagle Has Landed: An Apollo 11 Tribute, fits that bill, examining the intersection of fine art and science.

“One of our most central, foundational beliefs is that all art can be boiled down to three basic elements: the performer, the witness, and the shared experience between them. That’s a pretty broad definition that gives us a lot of opportunity,” Tewell says. “We want people to leave feeling that we just shared something. That they were able to be connected to the artists in their community through the experiences they had in this room.”

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