Without Walls Festival Showcases 22 Site-Specific Works
KPBS Midday Edition Segments / October 17, 2019
Speaker 1: 00:00 LA Jolla Playhouse kicks off. It's without walls or wow festival today at the arts district Liberty station. The festival showcases 22 sites. Specific works from local, national and international artists. KPBS arts reporter Beth hock Amando highlights two companies from New York and lets them describe their shows and the challenges of working outdoors under a flight path.
Speaker 2: 00:27 This is good though. I mean case in point right here.
Speaker 3: 00:35 [inaudible]
Speaker 4: 00:35 hi, I'm Tom Pearson. I wanted the artistic directors of third rail projects. We are in New York city based performing arts company and we're excited to be a part of this festival with LA Jolla Playhouse and without walls I think. I think expect diversity if anything like, and a lot of different interpretations about what it means to be out of a proceeding, some sort of relationship, that theater and that can be so many different expressions of you know, immersive theater, site-specific theater, ambulatory theater, experiential theater. It can, it can take a lot of different forms. So I think, I think that the festival does a really good job of actually showing the breadth of work that happens outside of a traditional theater space. And I think see as many things as you can and um, you'll get quite an experience of, of diversity in that. I really love site-specific work, especially because the rules change with every new site. And um, everything you think, you know about theater, you have to relearn it according to where you are. And so like what, you know, what, what is a comfortable sort of relationship to an audience in a theater and an idea about what center stage is or what, um, a fourth wall might be. It's like completely blown apart in a site. That to me is an exciting process of relearning the craft. Every time you, you make a new piece
Speaker 3: 01:49 [inaudible]
Speaker 4: 01:49 the site that we're in is a desert walking path on the grounds of Liberty station. It's a great space for us in terms of its location across from the San Diego airport and the story that we're sort of mixing together a tandem tail of, um, a little bit inspired by Amelia Earhart in the myth of Icarus and uh, looking at ideas of flight and failure and these different concepts around that using spoken word poetry mixed with a sound squirt by Shawn Haggardy, sort of framing that as an audio tour for the audience with headsets on these individual playback devices and they all kind of move through together.
Speaker 3: 02:26 [inaudible]
Speaker 4: 02:28 the airplanes that take off overhead is like one of the most emphatic elements of this, this site, you know, it's this constant at its peak, it's a minute and a half apart there. There's an airplane taking off every minute and a half and it's quite a loud sound that, that we pause for. But in this we decided to just embrace that and use that as part of the story and part of the design of the story. So I had been thinking about some concepts involving Icarus and Amelia Earhart and these ideas of flight. And when I saw this space, it was like this is the place to put that. And so all of that kind of came together, um, in relation to it. But also we've been to the without walls festival, um, before, and we're really in love with the work and the way that the festival is curated and, um, have been in conversation with LA Jolla Playhouse for a while about doing something. So the festival itself is very exciting to us and the site is interesting and it's, uh, opportunities and challenges. I think Liberty station as a site is, is full of a lot of different options and a lot of different architectural spaces. And
Speaker 3: 03:31 this is the, this is why it's an audio tour of [inaudible]
Speaker 4: 03:40 the audio, a walking tour component for the audience is for 28 people at a time. And they, they begin at the, we're calling the sort of the labyrinth space. They began at the, uh, the start of this and then they moved through this space with us for about an hour. Icarus is an interesting story because there is a pre Hellenic version and the literal, um, sort of interpretation and, and something that became a concept for us was harness for wind, which is what the wings were called. And originally those were sails. The pre Hellenic version of that story says that dataless invented sales as a way to out run the fleets of minus and then later that got interpreted as wings. So there's two versions of this story and we're invoking kind of both of them. That idea of a harness for when that could be either wings or could be sales is an interesting tie to the space and its relationship to the airport for one, but also its histories, a Naval base. So it sort of, it addresses two different ideas about the space at the same time through this story.
Speaker 3: 04:48 [inaudible]
Speaker 5: 05:00 I am Sami [inaudible]. I'm with the company of allegory. So allegory is a recreation of a 20th century women's suffrage pageant. Uh, it's based on a pageant that was performed in 1913 on the steps of the U S treasury building. And it was created by a woman named Hazel MCI and performed by a thousand women in 1913 and it was about representing the cause of women's suffrage through the form of spectacle and propaganda as a way of trying to push forward the, um, the, the challenge of getting women the right to vote. I'm Emily Maltby and I'm with the company of allegory. I don't know if we've had to make changes to adapt to the space, but I think that we have, you know, as he said, this was originally performed on the steps of the U S treasury building with a thousand women. We have 75. So figuring out what the rules of that on one elevated platform on a field are very, very different.
Speaker 5: 05:54 So we have a chorus that are pro are set on risers on the back of the stage. And then we have a core group of about 25 performers who perform most of the action. And they do that both on the stage and on the grass in front of it. So figuring out how to create our play space, uh, in a, you know, site-specific outdoor environment has been a really exciting challenge. A lot of the work that the two of us do in New York is, is site-specific. And to know that there is a festival of site-specific work is unbelievable. Um, uh, and so of course we are great admirers of the work at LA Hoya and the Playhouse specific and have, have admired the festival from afar. And um, when we got connected with the festival, we're very, very excited about partaking. And I think that for this piece in particular, we're very excited to do it in such a way where we're able to involve the community and also able to involve the community in such a way that it, it's taking place right outside the women's museum of California.
Speaker 5: 06:53 So we're trying to make that connection as well and figuring out all the ways that we can make ties between the community and the piece. And I think also like because we're performing outdoors and it's a free event, there's a, there's a sort of calm as you are feeling to the audience that they can come see part of it, leave our pieces and we hope you stay for the whole thing. But our pieces is in sort of little episodes so you can kind of sample it and stay for as much of it speaks to you. And so it really asks the audience to engage in a way that when you purchase a ticket and sit in a dark theater, uh, the sort of transaction has already occurred. Whereas in this piece, the transaction is happening throughout the piece. It's just going to say in terms of audience expectations, I think just coming with an open mind, and I think a lot of outdoors site specific theater doesn't look necessarily the way that we expect theater too in the sense that we don't have any lighting. We don't have, you know, I mean it's, it's, there's not like certain conventions of theater and yet if you come with an open mind, I think you'll have a great time.
Speaker 1: 07:53 That was New York based artists to Sammy kenneled and co-director, Emily Maltby of allegory. And earlier we heard from Tom Pearson of third rail projects. Their shows are part of LA Jolla play houses without walls or wow festival that begins tonight and runs through on October 20th at arts district Liberty station.
La Jolla Playhouse's Without Walls, or WOW, Festival takes place at Arts District Liberty Station Thursday through Sunday. The site-specific performances are put on by both local and international companies.