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Your Guide To The WoW Festival - Downtown Edition

La Jolla Playhouse’s immersive theater experience heads to downtown

A photo of Trisha Brown Dance Company's

Credit: Courtesy of La Jolla Playhouse

Above: A photo of Trisha Brown Dance Company's "In Plain Site."

La Jolla Playhouse's Without Walls Festival returns this weekend to celebrate interactive and immersive theater.

This year, however, the three-day festival moves from its cozy UC San Diego confines to various locations throughout downtown San Diego. According to the Playhouse, being in an urban environment attracts a larger pool of artists and gives them more creative freedom.

But what about us?

How will the new location work? Where will we park? How will we get to all the different shows? How will we find our friends afterwards and discuss our feelings?

Festival Director Meiyin Wang took time from her festival-planning duties to patiently guide us through.

WoW Festival Details

When: Various times from Thursday, Oct. 19 to Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017

Where: Downtown San Diego, Barrio Logan and La Jolla

Cost: Free to $35

Website: WoW Festival

Getting There and Parking

Wang, who has organized festivals in New York, recommends ride-sharing services and public transportation.

But there are also options for those who prefer to drive.

"I've had a lot of conversations about parking," she said.

For events at Bread & Salt, there's limited free parking in the lot behind the venue; Border X has street parking only; the Central Library has limited free validated parking and street parking; The New Children’s Museum offers $15 in its garage on Saturday and Sunday, with additional street parking and paid lots nearby; Horton Plaza Park offers street parking and paid lots are available nearby.

I'm in downtown, now what?

Because the shows are spread around downtown, it can feel overwhelming to try and get to everything.

Wang says it's easiest to break the festival down by location. You can opt to spend an entire day at Bread & Salt or at the Central Library. Or go to a different location each day.

Here's a list of all the different venues.

Photo credit: Courtesy of La Jolla Playhouse

A photo from "Shasta Geaux Pop," by Ayesha Jordan and Charlotte Brathwaite.

What should I see?

If you're a true newcomer to experimental theater, Wang suggests attending one free event and one ticketed one to get a feel for the festival.

For a ticketed show, she recommends Gob Squad Arts Collective "Super Night Shot" as a good gateway experience, especially if you're new to site-specific theater. Her freebie recommendation is "Model Home" at Horton Plaza Park.

If you're more adventurous, check out "Shasta Geaux Pop," an underground hip-hop party that's also a theater piece. "Waking La Llorona," a multisensory, individual experience inspired by a legendary Mexican tale, is another top pick.

Here's a look at all your options.

What should I bring?

"Bring comfortable shoes and a sense of adventure," Wang said.

It's also a good idea to have cash for food and trinkets, sunglasses, water and a sweater for the evening shows.

What if I'm on a budget?

There are actually several free performances and workshops happening throughout the weekend.

Some, like "CVRTAIN," require an RSVP. But others, like "Oslo," are first-come, first-served.

Check out the free options.

Is the festival family-friendly?

Families should head to The New Children's Museum, where there will be a variety of activities including a "Faerie Flash Mob" by New York puppeteer Basil Twist, and an interactive scavenger hunt.

There are also a handful of all-ages events at the other venues.

Here's a look at what you can do with kids and teens.

Where can I discuss what I've seen?

The best part about previous WoW Festivals was meeting fellow theatergoers after each performance and talking about what shows you loved or hated. Lots of friendships were made, and it was common to see people run over to buy tickets for a performance they never considered.

Even though this year's event is more fragmented, Wang said people will still be able to meet up at the end of each night. Bread & Salt will have gatherings after the last show where people can buy drinks, meet each other and even mingle with the artists.


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