La Jolla Playhouse unveils full lineup for free Without Walls Festival at San Diego’s Rady Shell
WOW will include 21 projects by artists from around the world April 27-30. Reservations open Tuesday, April 4.
La Jolla Playhouse has unveiled the full lineup for its 2023 Without Walls Festival, which will run April 27-30 at the waterfront Rady Shell at Jacobs Park in San Diego with 21 acts, artists and site-specific projects from around the world.
All of this year’s festival performances and events at The Rady Shell, produced in association with the San Diego Symphony, will be free. An offsite WOW event being produced at the downtown location of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego will require paid tickets.
Show times will be announced at a later date. Reservations are recommended for some performances and will be available starting Tuesday, April 4.
The playhouse announced the names of 10 acts and events on March 3. Eleven more were announced March 24. For full details, visit wowfestival.org.
Announced March 24
“360” from Benjamin “Monki” Kuitenbrouwer & TENT, the Netherlands: A duo of Dutch circus acrobats invite the audience to sit close and take part in the show, whether it’s rolling around on wheeled stools, making physical contact or simply sitting back to observe.
“Brassroots District: Live in the Lot Summer ‘73”: This immersive music-theater troupe re-creates 1973 Los Angeles. The nine-piece Brassroots District funk band has its own internal drama but it’s the opening act for Sly and the Family Stone. Can the record company executives coming to hear the band members play finally be their shot at the big time?
“The Cell Plays” from Playwrights Project: This San Diego theater organization will present an intimate, immersive play written by members of its Out of the Yard program for people who have experienced incarceration. The audience will be guests touring a correction facility and jail museum where they’ll experience a play about life inside a cell performed by actors in and around their cells, followed by an audience talkback featuring formerly incarcerated people.
“Fair Trade” from Jessica Creane and Yannick Trapman-O’Brien, Philadelphia: In this interactive experiment of negotiation, audience members will choose three items in their possession as possible offerings and try to negotiate a trade with a stranger.
“It’s Not That Way, It’s This Way” from Galmae, France: This immersive installation is created by the audience, starting with only a stone and piece of string. Over time, people working alone and together create an enormous web-like string maze. South Korean artist Juhyung Lee was inspired to create the project after seeing how collectives can make change during a rally in Seoul in 2015.
“Moving Spaces” by San Diego Dance Theater: Dancers will lead the audience to different spaces around The Rady Shell where they will perform pieces by choreographers Grace Shinhae Jun, Jean Isaacs, Miraslova Wilson and San Diego Dance Theater Artistic Director Terry Wilson.
“Yellow Bird Chase” from Liars & Believers, Boston: A clownish maintenance crew finds a magical yellow bird and a mad chase begins. The family-friendly show will travel around The Shell and feature masks, puppets and gibberish language.
“Cleaning the Stables” from the Herakles Project’s Robert Twomey and Ash Eliza Smith: The San Diego duo has created an adventure described as a “sound walk meets locative cinema” experience inspired by Greek hero Herakles (aka Hercules) and his 12 labors. Audience members will wear headphones as they join the HeraKlean company to clean a cow stable, redirect two rivers and discover a cult legend.
“Glacial Incantations” from the Herakles Project’s Hortense Gerardo: This San Diego artist presents a modern retelling of the ninth labor of Herakles (or Hercules), in which King Eurystheus ordered him to bring him the belt of Amazon queen Hippolyte. Participants will use a smartphone and earbuds to access recordings and augmented-reality visuals on the walkway around The Rady Shell.
“Jin vs. the Beach” from La Jolla Playhouse: The playhouse’s Performance Outreach Program (POP) Tour is a new musical play for young audiences about an anxious fifth-grader named Jin going on his first school field trip to the beach.
“Community Canvas: Making Our Mark”: The San Diego Unified School District Honors Theatre Project, in partnership with La Jolla Playhouse, will be a theater piece created by local theater students in response to studying murals in the community.
“A Shared Space”: The San Diego Symphony presents this interactive performance in which Ryan Carter transforms cellphones into instruments as the audience joins the symphony musicians as players in a communal performance. Once audience members are connected digitally with Carter, their phones will emit sounds that will cue the orchestra to play.
“Birdmen” from Close-Act Theatre Co.: This theatrical stilt-walking troupe from the Netherlands become huge, illuminated, birdlike creatures from the future who react to their environment, communicate with colors and search for others of their species.
“Choreo & Fly” from Disco Riot: San Diego’s Disco Riot presents this audience-participation dance program that involves short dance pieces, kite-flying, physical expression and movement.
“Circular Dimensions” from Cristopher Cichocki: This Coachella Valley artist presents an audio-visual performance that harnesses natural and industrial elements to create original compositions for his DJ sets. Three-dimensional video projections will complement the music.
“Drive” from Diversionary Theatre: The LGBTQ-identified San Diego theater will present this immersive theater piece inspired by Broadway veteran Sharon Wheatley’s book about her pandemic-necessitated cross-country RV trip with her wife and family. Wheatley, an original cast member of the La Jolla Playhouse-born “Come From Away,” stars in the play with her “Come From Away” castmate Astrid Van Wieren.
“The End” from Control Group Productions: This Denver-based company takes audience members on a bus tour through a city transformed by escalating climate catastrophe and on the brink of collapse.
“Las Cuatro Milpas” from TuYo Theatre: This San Diego theater company will present an immersive play inspired by one of the city’s oldest Mexican restaurants, Las Cuatro Milpas in Barrio Logan. Audiences will walk through a corn maze modeled on Aztec codices and covered in murals with interactive QR codes and audio tracks to learn the story of Petra and Nati Estudillo’s journey from Mexico to California and the founding of their restaurant in 1933. The show will include music and recorded dances inspired by the Aztec corn gods.
“The Nest” from Megan Flød Johnson: The St. Paul, Minn., artist will create an immersive playscape for young people that represents the home of an elusive migrating creature. Children will help workers decorate the colorful nest with their writings and reflections.
“Salty Water” from Blindspot Collective: The San Diego theater company will present a walk-through theater piece inspired by the city’s history and its connection to the sea. Fifteen performers, 40 local youths and large-scale puppets will present music, movement, poetry and spoken-word pieces.
“La Lucha”: The production, written by David Israel Reynoso through his immersive Optika Moderna theater company, will take viewers inside the world of lucha libre Mexican masked wrestling.
As an addition to the four-day WOW Festival, La Jolla Playhouse is working with the Museum of Contemporary Art on a ticketed world-premiere lucha libre-themed project that will have a series of previews during WOW, followed by a run May 11 through June 4. All performances will be at MCASD, 1100 Kettner Blvd., San Diego. Tickets start at $39.
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