When We Grow Up hasn’t always been the interactive, game-like theatre experience we know it as today. It started out as a single idea. At a Critical Point Theatre ensemble meeting, Matthew Schott (now in the cast) asked: “What if we did a play where you had to become the first thing you wanted to be when you grew up?”
The conversation amongst friends sparked an interest into delving deeper and creating a rich, vibrant world with ridiculous characters and situations. There were princesses and priests, psychologists and circus performers, and a crazy old miner who passed out every time he tried to go to work because he was claustrophobic. The script was messy, but there was one thing we loved – the absurdity of it all. Though director Will Jennnings headed the process, he remained open as collaborators shifted and the world we were trying to create grew bigger and bigger.
But essentially, we wanted to do an experiment. We wanted to ask people directly: “What if all your childhood dreams had come true?” So we scrapped all of that and made a game instead. It’s also a lecture. And some videos. And a trial. And an arts and crafts project. But it is this form of the show, in which the audience joins us not only by observing but actually creating, that really got us in the spirit of childhood. After all, playacting is much more natural for everyone back then.
Once we created a proper frame for discussion, with our crazy characters that existed in an alternate Sci-Fi inspired world, we had a lot more real, adult problems to address. What values does society have for certain jobs? What makes a job a career? Do kids feel pressure to pick a job? What kind of education do we value? As the process continued, we realized When We Grow Up had no answers. It just led to more questions.
And so now, after years of thinking and dreaming on our own, we’re ready to ask you to come play with us for real in our crowdsourced performance. It was a big leap of faith getting to this point, and now we’re ready to share some of those powerful risks, questions, and games. You might not like it, but you’ll never know until you roll the dice.
Julia Katz is a director, producer, and critic. Most recently, she directed Refresh: Stories of Love, Sex, and the Internet at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and 59E59 Theaters, which was called “an inventive, thoughtful examination of the modern cyber morals that affect us all” by The Stage. She is the artistic director of Critical Point Theatre, an ensemble dedicated to collective generation and innovative storytelling. As a critic, she has written for The Washington Post, DC Theatre Scene, Fringe Review, and more. Julia currently lives in Manhattan with her partner and two devilish cats, where she makes her living writing freelance and teaching theatre and dance.