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Without Walls Festival Showcases 22 Site-Specific Works

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Speaker 1: 00:00 LA Jolla Playhouse kicks off another without walls or wow festival tomorrow. There are local as well as international companies performing 22 site-specific works through the weekend. KPBS arts reporter Beth Armando looks to a quartet of local artists and lets them describe their shows and explain what the wow experience is like.

Speaker 2: 00:23 Hi, I'm David Israel Renoso. I'm a scenic and costume designer as well as the founder and creator of [inaudible], which is an immersive theatrical company here in San Diego. Uh, working on a new piece for the without walls festival

Speaker 3: 00:37 [inaudible]

Speaker 2: 00:37 so let's continue. This is an immersive show in which audience members enter two at a time and you are assessed, you're outfitted with some sort of optical year and you enter into what I kind of like to call an analog virtual reality in which you do enter kind of a new dimension, if you will, and much in the same way that you do when you enter and put on sort of VR goggles. But what you're seeing is something that's completely analog. What's really amazing about working in site specific work or work that sort of non traditionally set in a containment of a theater proper is the opportunity to really have the space dictate what the story is and how it is that you take in the story. As you're creating a work, you're always taking that into consideration as to how it is that audience members maneuvers of the space.

Speaker 2: 01:27 What is it that the picture that's provided for them? What are the sights and sounds and the texture that's already alive and well within the space? What are sort of the ghosts, if you will, that are already in his space and what is it that that does to then bring a filter or sort of a lens for this experience? It's this other character within the story that is very, very crucial. I think strangely, my hope is that in some ways this piece leans into maybe being categorically classified as a work of horror, but I think in a non, not sort of the way that you expect it, I think it's more so in the way that falling in love is actually terrifying. Leaving behind the season of your life is really scary. Uh, embarking a new one is actually really quite frightening. Those are like great sort of monsters in our own psyche and so my hope is that that tension and that sense of courage that it takes to embark into a new season is harnessed within the piece and it is a bit of nerving and that that tension is captured in your experience of less than 10 years.

Speaker 3: 02:35 [inaudible]

Speaker 4: 02:36 my name is Molly per year. I'm the executive director for malice shock dance and we're here getting ready for without a net, which is a big circus themed production. It's an immersive interactive experience that involves dance and acrobatics and all sorts of different apparatus. We have contortionists and sideshow and all of this is part of LA Jolla play houses without walls festival. We are big fans of without walls and just seeing and being inspired over the years by the different types of projects and partnerships that they've created inspired us to get outside of our norm. John Malouf shock is well known as a choreographer. He's been here for 32 years, but this gave us an opportunity to get out people outside our normal dance world to come in and be part of this project. So it pushed us to reach out into the community to get to know the circus community here, which has been really, really fun and get people on board like a contortionists that we never would have worked with before. So it's really expanded how we view performers and gotten us outside of our, our dance community a little bit. Um, which is really exciting for us and just having it run by a theater company and someone who produces, you know, an organization that produces theater has also pushed us to make this really theatrical and have speaking parts and have people that interact with the audience in a way that we normally wouldn't

Speaker 5: 04:08 and break that wall with the audiences as a damn high.

Speaker 2: 04:14 My name is John Luke from San Diego circus center. I'm the founder and owner. We've been around for eight years and we're so excited to be part of wow festival. We were approached about a year ago and we had to come up with an idea. And what happened at that time as I had so much problems with immigration, I had international students wanting to come train. Uh, visas were expensive. So when wow approached me, I said, well, our world right now and without walls is let's break down the walls. So therefore this whole show is about inclusion. Circus is international circus, Africa, France, Cuba, Brazil, Canada, the U S Australia. So what we're trying to do is represent the world and how difficult it is to get into the country to express your culture. If we have more and more walls, then we won't be able to understand other people. We won't be able to share our culture. So this show for the wild festival is called inclusion, not exclusion, inclusion. And we go through clowning Tito board, a Russian bar, Lira, trapeze, acrobatics to express

Speaker 5: 05:29 are art.

Speaker 6: 05:32 My name is Blake McCardy and I'm the director of artistic development for blind spot collective, which will be producing hall pass in this years without walls Fest.

Speaker 6: 05:43 And the whole show takes place in a high school. So the audience traverses the halls and classrooms and bathrooms of a high school because at any given moment during the show, there are five things happening simultaneously and in many ways the audience chooses their own adventure and receives a class schedule at the beginning of the performance from which they are choosing the things they will see and those things don't repeat. So it is impossible to see everything that's in the show in a single performance because it has a cast of over 60 performers and 24 different playwrights and composers, each of whom contributed a single short play or musical, all of which are about high school and about what high school might be like in 2019 so our entire performance will unfold at high tech, high in the high school at high tech high. And so we are responding completely and entirely to the architecture and the environment that is on that campus.

Speaker 6: 06:53 Part of our goal with this show is really to potentially engage an audience that otherwise might not attend. Traditional theater. Theater generally has a lot of rules. You sit in a dark room, you turn your phones off, you don't talk, you clap. When it's over. An immersive theater and site responsive theater, a lot of those rules get thrown out the window. And in many ways, the audience gets to engage in material in a very different way that has fewer rules, fewer structures, and really relies on on the audience's participation and their investment and engagement in the work. And so for us, I think it's a, it's an exciting opportunity for the audience to have choice and agency to actually craft their own experience because it's entirely up to them to actually choose what it is they want to see and how it is they want to engage with those pieces.

Speaker 7: 07:52 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 07:53 LA Jolla, play houses without walls or wow. Festival begins tomorrow. It runs through October 20th at Liberty stations arts district. Tune in tomorrow for part two of Beth's wow. Coverage, which will feature the New York companies performing at the festival.

The festival takes place at Liberty Station on Thursday through Sunday. The performances are put on by both local and international companies.

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