In keeping with its mantra of staging intimate passionate performances in uncommon uses of environment, the Rorschach Theatre will take over Washington DC’s magnificent Intown Uptown Inn from 7-9:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 3, and present ?Six Impossible Things: An Immersive Benefit Performance.
“In our history as a company, we have most frequently worked in non-traditional spaces,” says Jenny McConnell Frederick, co-artistic director for the Rorschach Theatre. “For this benefit, we’ve taken some elements of things we’ve done before and repackaged them in a new way.”
The night will feature six 10-minute plays running continuously in one of the bed and breakfast’s six different guestrooms. A seventh room will offer a secret “unscripted experience.”
The Rorschach Theatre regularly runs a one-of-a-kind recurring play development project called Klecksography, in which it premieres six new short plays in a night, and this performance is a derivative of that with a team of playwrights, designers, actors and directors crafting six new works.
“Over the course of a week or 10 days we create five or six original 10-minute plays based on some sort of common source material, so we took that idea and reshaped it for this,” Frederick says. “We started out discussing the themes we thought were exciting and dynamic and things that connected to the space for us. We loved the idea of The Shining and Alice and Wonderland, so you’ll see some hints and little acknowledgments to those pieces throughout. Those are fun tie-ins.”
Inspiration for the scripted word also came from the ambiance of the historic building in which the plays are set, as playwrights Brett Abelman, Randy Baker, Danielle Mohlman, Jack Novak and Grady Weatherford drew from a book of the Inn’s past.
“We found this fantastic book of articles about the house’s history and some of those mentioned very exciting things (robberies and other nefarious acts) and some more mundane (a marriage or party) and we used many as a launching point for these pieces,” Frederick says. “The history and those who resided in it are worked in and we fictionalized from there.”
The cast of actors taking part in this unique theater experience includes Christine Alexander, Sara Barker, Natalie Cutcher, Misty Demory, James Finley, Kari Ginsburg, Tina Ghandchilar, Gwen Grastorf, Anna Jackson, Anna Lathrop, Cam Magee, Sasha Olinick, Matthew Pauli, Francisco Reinoso, Meredith Richard, Christian Sullivan, Jjana Valentiner and David Zimmerman.
The new works will be directed by Amber Jackson, Matt Ripa, Alexander Strain and Sarah Taurchini; designed by Lauren Cucarola, Matthew Frederick, David Ghatan, Roni Lancaster and Deb Sivigny; and produced by Frederick, Catherine Tripp and Randy Baker.
Attendees will be up close and personal to the action, and Frederick feels that an event like this is a one-of-a-kind chance for theatergoers.
“Theater is live and that makes it so much more vibrant than any other form of art that we have now. It’s happening right in front of you. We feel like immersing the audience in the experience has such a great benefit to the experience as a whole,” Frederick says. “We walk a really fine line because we feel strongly about audience immersion, but we also feel strongly about not forcing audience engagement. We’re not going to pull an audience member on to the stage and make them wear a silly hat.”
How the evening will proceed
When guests arrive to the Inn, they will get a key to one of the rooms and they are allowed to explore the house for 90 minutes, moving from room to room and play to play as they wish. Since the plays will each run seven times, audience members will have the chance to view each one, or stay and watch their favorites as much as they would like.
The evening will also include a cocktail party, featuring specialty cocktails, a silent auction and bites from some of DC’s finest eateries. Approximately 60-65 tickets will be available for the night.
The price of admission is $95 ($65 of which is tax-deductible). All proceeds will go to benefit the artistic programming of Rorschach Theatre. For more information, visit www.rorschachtheatre.com or call 1-800-494-TIXS.