PopUP Theatrics to Go INSIDE with Immserive Show at St. John the Divine

PopUP Theatrics to Go INSIDE with Immserive Show at St. John the Divine

PopUP Theatrics' new immersive theatre experience "Inside," in which two audience members at a time witness the same events and are fed divergent and contradictory stories about what they are seeing, begins regular monthly performances at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue, beginning Tuesday March 14. The March performances dates (five in all) are Tuesday through Saturday March 14 to 18, with an opening on Wednesday March 15.

Performed for 22 audience members per night (in groups of two), "Inside" is the brainchild of PopUP Theatrics partners Tamilla Woodard, Ana Margineanu (who direct) and the writer Peca Stefan.

Collaborating with PopUP on "Inside" are the guest director France Damian (from Germany); the choreographer Joya Powel (from the US); the production designer Deb O (from the US), and the guest playwrights Zhu Yi (from China) and Troy Deutsch (from the US). PopUP's ensemble for "Inside" numbers 13.

Unfolding in several locations on the campus of St. John the Divine, "Inside" uses micro-narration delivered through various common media devices to describe events unfolding in real time to two different individuals. In this time of fake news and alternative facts, reality is subject to wildly divergent interpretations stemming from belief systems that are rudely at odds.

As audiences are offered two experiences/stories, they step deeper and deeper into their own point of view, even as they witness the same occurrence in front of them.

"With this immersive," states Woodard, "our intention is to make it plain that you can be in the same place at the same time and have your perspective manipulated, so much so that you can begin to ignore the reality in front of you."

Adds Margineanu, "In a present reigned by 'alternative facts,' 'Inside' explores the deep mechanisms of manipulation, posing the question 'how much of what we experience is affected by the voices in our heads, in the media, on social media or from inherited family beliefs?'"

Part walking tour with micro narration, and part participatory event, "Inside" cross-pollinates narrated and choreographed storytelling with the inherent theatricality of a communally discovered common space.

"In the theatre we are always asking for a suspension of disbelief and an acceptance of the reality we propose," sums up Woodard. "In PopUP's 'Inside' that proposition -- focused on the world around us -- takes on an entirely new meaning."

Last July, PopUP Theatrics presented "Broken City: Wall Street" (which completed the Broken City Trilogy), in which small-size audiences were guided along three street-itineraries Financial District during which they encountered multiple characters embedded in the fabric of the streets.

Performances are Tuesday March 14 at 5:40, 6:00, 6:20, 6:40, 7:00, 7:20, 7:40, 8:00, 8:20, 8:40, 9:00; Wednesday March 15 at 6pm (opening), and Thursday through Saturday March 16, 17, 18 at 6:00, 6:20, 6:40, 7:00, 7:20, 7:40, 8:00, 8:20, 8:40, 9:00. Tickets for April shows will go on sale on March 19.

The running time per slot is 1:10. The performances are continuous and overlapping. Comfortable shoes are recommended; the climbing of stairs is part of the show.

Written by Peca Stefan, directed by Tamilla Woodard and Ana Margineanu, with guest direction by France Damian; choreography by Joya Powel, and the contributions of guest playwrights Zhu Yi and Troy Deutsch, "Inside" performs Tuesday March 14 at 5:40, 6:00, 6:20, 6:40, 7:00, 7:20, 7:40, 8:00, 8:20, 8:40, 9:00; Wednesday March 15 at 6pm (opening), and Thursday through Saturday March 16, 17, 18 at 5:40, 6:00, 6:20, 6:40, 7:00, 7:20, 7:40, 8:00, 8:20, 8:40, 9:00. The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine is at 1047 Amsterdam Avenue (112th Street). For tickets, which are $40 (students $25), visit: www.popuptheatrics.com. For more information about St. John the Divine, call 212-316-7540.

PopUP Theatrics' mission is to create site-specific/site-impacting theatrical events in dynamic collaborations with theatre artists of many backgrounds and disciplines.

Previous shows include the Broken City Trilogy, consisting of "Broken City: Lower East Side" (2014), "Broken City: Harlem" (2015), and "Broken City: Wall Street" (2016).

"Long Distance Affair" -- the first project under the PopUP Theatrics brand -- began in 2011 and has been produced in five editions in New York, Mexico, Edinburgh, Buenos Aires, and Bucharest. "The Window" -- another site-specific intervention -- was nominated for seven New York Innovative Theatre Awards in 2013, receiving four awards, including Best Ensemble.

Their single-spectator immersive "Hotel Project" premiered in Mexico in 2011 and took up residence at the WJ Hotel in New York and The Grand Summit in New Jersey in 2012.

"Inside," a new evolving work, world premiered in Madrid at the InterContinental Hotel, in 2013, and was seen in Bucharest as part of the Romanian Independent Theatre Festival (where it was awarded The Special Jury Award), in 2014.

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