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La Jolla Playhouse Announces Initial Projects for 2022 WOW Festival

Projects include: Ants, from the Australia-based Polyglot Theatre, Black Séance, a world premiere from the San Diego-based Blindspot Collective, and more.

La Jolla Playhouse Announces Initial Projects for 2022 WOW Festival

La Jolla Playhouse has announced several initial projects for its 2022 Without Walls (WOW) Festival. The WOW Festival will take place April 21 - 24 at ARTS DISTRICT Liberty Station, home of the Playhouse's 2019 WOW Festival and the Pop-Up WOW event in August 2021. Like previous WOW Festivals, the 2022 event will feature four action-packed days of theatre, dance and music, with more than 20 productions by acclaimed local, national and International Artists occurring simultaneously throughout the weekend.

The WOW Festival creates an artistic hub in the city, where patrons can gather to experience WOW performances, engage in lively discussions about the work, and enjoy the many food and drink options on offer at Liberty Station. Tickets for WOW Festival productions, ranging from free to $20, will go on sale in March. More at

The appetite for WOW has grown tremendously since the program's inception in 2011 - from audiences and artists alike - and the Playhouse is expanding the program to offer even more of this exciting, interactive work in the community. Beginning in 2022, the Playhouse will produce the WOW Festival annually, making it a staple of the San Diego events calendar for local, national and international audiences. As further part of this growth, the Playhouse recently appointed Mia Fiorella to the new position of Director of Experiences and Activations. She will join Playhouse Producing Associate Amy C. Ashton in overseeing the Without Walls series.

"Without Walls has truly become part of the core of the Playhouse, and it has been a dream of mine to make the WOW Festival an annual event in San Diego. By moving to a yearly festival, we are taking another step toward making La Jolla Playhouse and San Diego the premier destination for this type of site-inspired, immersive, engaging work. I'm so pleased to have Mia Fiorella take on this new position, focused on spearheading WOW's ongoing evolution. Her role, alongside festival producer Amy Ashton, will give us the opportunity to meet the growing demand for these uniquely thrilling offerings," said Christopher Ashley, the Rich Family Artistic Director of La Jolla Playhouse. "This initial line-up for our 2022 WOW Festival showcases an extraordinary group of artists from San Diego and around the globe, including such popular past WOW Festival participants as CORPUS, Polyglot Theatre and Blindspot Collective. There will be experiences that appeal to patrons of all ages, and it's a joy to be back at Liberty Station to celebrate our community's theatrical adventurousness and rich cultural diversity."

Initial projects for the 2022 WOW Festival include: Ants, from the Australia-based Polyglot Theatre (2019 WOW Festival's Boats; 2013 WOW Festival's We Built This City); Ascension, from San Diego Opera; Black Séance, a world premiere from the San Diego-based Blindspot Collective (Playhouse's 2020/21 Resident Theatre Company; Pop-Up WOW's when the bubble bursts; Digital WOW's Walks of Life; 2019 WOW Festival's Hall Pass); La Bulle, from the Toronto-based CORPUS (2015 WOW Festival's A Flock of Flyers); The Frontera Project, from Mexico's Tijuana Hace Teatro and NYC's New Feet Productions; Lessons in Temperament, from Canada's Outside the March; Monuments, from Australia-based artist Craig Walsh; and On Her Shoulders We Stand, from the San Diego-based TuYo Theatre, plus a devised piece created by students in the San Diego Unified School District's 2022 Honors Theatre Program. Additional projects - including works by several ARTS DISTRICT Liberty Station-based arts groups - will be announced shortly.

La Jolla Playhouse's Without Walls (WOW) series has become one of San Diego's most popular and acclaimed performance programs. This signature Playhouse initiative is designed to break the barriers of traditional theatre, offering immersive and site-inspired works that venture beyond the physical confines of the Playhouse facilities. Over the last ten years, the Playhouse has been commissioning and presenting this series of immersive, site-inspired and virtual productions throughout the San Diego community, including eight stand-alone productions, fourteen Digital WOW pieces, and four WOW Festivals.

Mia Fiorella joined the marketing team at La Jolla Playhouse in 2011 and helped launch the very first Without Walls (WOW) show, Susurrus, at the San Diego Botanical Garden, and the inaugural WOW Festival in 2013. She also helped develop and produce several WOW projects, including Accomplice: San Diego, The Car Plays and Binge, as well as several Digital WOW productions. Additionally, Mia worked on marketing such hit Playhouse shows as Come From Away, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Blueprints to Freedom, Junk and Miss You Like Hell, along with all WOW projects. Her passion is bringing audiences and artists together to share stories, cultures and experiences. She previously worked as the Audience Development Manager at The Old Globe, and in Chicago as a Publicist with John Iltis & Cheryl Lewin Associates and as Marketing & Publicity Director for The Noble Fool Theatre and Trinity Irish Dance Company.

Amy C. Ashton joined La Jolla Playhouse in 2020 as Producing Associate, where she has produced several projects, including the Digital WOW series and the Pop-Up WOW event last summer. She served for seven seasons as Managing Director of Colt Coeur Theatre Company, developing and producing eight world premieres, including Dry Land by Ruby Rae Spiegel, as well as the East Coast premiere of Eureka Day, by Jonathan Spector. She produced site-based and immersive projects, such as Empire Travel Agency, KPOP and Does It Hurt When I Do This? with Woodshed Collective. She previously served as Artistic Associate at Roundabout Theatre and The Civilians. She also produced the 2015 Prototype Festival production of Kansas City Choir Boy, starring Courtney Love and Todd Almond, and the 2017 NYMF production of The Demise.

La Jolla Playhouse is a place where artists and audiences come together to create what's new and next in the American theatre, from Tony Award-winning productions, to imaginative programs for young audiences, to interactive experiences outside our theatre walls. Founded in 1947 by Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire and Mel Ferrer, the Playhouse is currently led by Tony Award winner Christopher Ashley, the Rich Family Artistic Director of La Jolla Playhouse, and Managing Director Debby Buchholz. The Playhouse is internationally renowned for the development of new plays and musicals, including mounting 105 world premieres, commissioning 60 new works, and sending 33 productions to Broadway - including the hit musical Come From Away - garnering a total of 38 Tony Awards, as well as the 1993 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre.

ARTS DISTRICT Liberty Station is San Diego's largest Arts & Cultural District, located in historic buildings at the former Naval Training Center in the Liberty Station neighborhood, near Downtown on San Diego Bay. With 100 park-like acres, the ARTS DISTRICT is home to nearly 145 museums and galleries, artist studios, dance companies, fine dining, creative retail and other organizations that showcase San Diego's creative community and provide innovative experiences for the public.

WOW Festival Projects


From Polyglot Theatre (Australia)

Ants is an interactive performance which has giant Ants bringing children together in an unusual landscaping project. Faced with three big insects and hundreds of giant breadcrumbs, children are irresistibly drawn in and must figure out what the Ants want them to do. Gradually, a world of meaning unfolds, illustrating the human desire for order by transforming any public space with lines and patterns. Ants is an enchanting investigation into the nature of work and children's relationship with their environment.

For this engagement, Polyglot Theatre is working in partnership with Inlet Dance Theatre to deliver Ants.


From San Diego Opera (San Diego)

Ascension showcases two female opera singers walking through the park areas of Liberty Station, singing a cappella two choral pieces by composer Dr. Melissa Dunphy and librettist Jacqueline Goldfinger, which encompass the Spirit of American Liberty for which Liberty Station was named. The first song, "Halcyon Days," is about finding hope in the depth of despair and rising up to make life better. The second song, "Set Myself Free," is about the freedom women found in America, and was originally written and performed in NYC as a celebration of the 19th Amendment. The singers will begin as early 20th century Suffragettes and throughout the performance slowly shed their outfit to reveal 21st century garb, physically showing the passage of time and the evolution of the American dream. The songs will be sung while the performers walk a route within the Station that highlights the places/plaques at the station commemorating American history.

Black Séance

From Blindspot Collective (San Diego)

Black Séance mingles magic and mixed drinks for an intoxicating, immersive experience that celebrates Black icons. Ushered into a dark, back-alley bar like those you might find in New Orleans, patrons are invited to participate in a transformative ritual that finds Francis, their bartender and amateur magician, channeling some of his heroes. Frederick Douglass, Josephine Baker, and James Baldwin are invoked as Francis investigates his mysterious family history. While encountering the humor and humanity of figures like Eartha Kitt or Redd Foxx through their own words, one never knows who will make an appearance and who will ghost in this visceral examination of generational trauma and triumph.

La Bulle

From CORPUS (Canada)

La Bulle offers a theatrical setting where there is nowhere to hide: an absurd situation, fully exploited by a lucid and lunar Pierrot. Through mime, dance, text, even drawing, he tries to connect with his audience. Dressed in the archetypal black and white costume and make-up, he manages to create bonds, alas all ephemeral, with those who are willing to give him a little time. He embraces solitude whole-heartedly, and swims freely like a fish in water in the realm of dreams. Poetry and humor are always at his side, true to CORPUS' vocation. Conceived long before COVID, the show was already exploring the theme of social distancing before it became a concern for all. This new work also speaks of an equally contemporary paradox: private space in full transparency.

The Frontera Project

From Tijuana Hace Teatro (Mexico) and New Feet Productions (NYC)

The Frontera Project is an interactive, bilingual theater experience created and performed by a company of Mexican and US artists. They use theater, music, movement and play to actively engage the audience in a compassionate, often joyous conversation about life at the US/Mexico Border. The Frontera Project does not tell one Big Story. Rather, they build a mosaic of many small stories that celebrate the richness and contradictions of Fronterizo life. Specifically focused on Tijuana/San Diego, the piece explores the varied experiences of people on both sides of the Border - for audiences who may never have been there themselves. Their mission is to create the possibility for recognition across difference - of perspective, identity, experience, sparking a dialogue about what divides us, and what we share. Making that connection is crossing a border.

Lessons in Temperament

From Outside the March (Canada)

Written and performed by musician and theatre-maker James Smith, and directed and developed by Outside the March Artistic Director Mitchell Cushman, Lessons in Temperament is the story of four neuro-diverse brothers, told through a theatrical escape into the art and science of piano tuning. It is impossible to perfectly tune a piano - something that Smith knows all too well. A few years ago he taught himself how to tune pianos as an additional source of income between gigs. Through pursuing this work, Smith discovered something even more valuable - the perfect metaphor through which to process the mental complexities of his family. Between James and his brothers, they have had life-long journeys with OCD, autism, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Throughout the piece, Smith shares the story of his family, while getting the piano in front of him beautifully and imperfectly in tune. Catch this award-winning play's return to the stage, hot on the heels of its recent feature film adaptation.


From Craig Walsh (Australia)

Monuments is a site-responsive projection installation that represent a haunting synergy between the human form, natural environment and the act of viewing. Nighttime video projections transform trees into sculptural monuments, surveying the immediate environment. The piece aims to challenge traditional expectations of public monuments and the selective history represented in our civic spaces. Cleverly deconstructing its own definition by humanizing the monument, there is a temporary fusion of everyday individuals with other living species occupying shared areas. Undermining the permanent historical and public art models so often controlled by subjective motivations, Monuments recognizes the infinite contributions that influence our understanding of place. Built for the great outdoors, the piece celebrates individuals in the community through large-scale portraits projected onto trees in a public space.

On Her Shoulders We Stand

From TuYo Theatre (San Diego)

Explore the revolution of WW2 and the forging of new definitions and identities; the factories and battlefields of WWII fundamentally shifted the narratives about Latinas in the US. Before the war these women were outsiders whose language, food and cultural traditions marked them as other, but this unprecedented reorienting created the space for Latinas to enter into the cultural ethos as never before possible in the US. These women stood with their country, a country unready to claim them as its own, and joined the war effort at home and abroad, they dipped their shoulders down and bore into the fight. This multi-sensory theatrical experience takes patrons through a series of interconnected spaces to experience a performance focused on hidden community stories, immersing them in a world of historical memory, using the power of names to understand the role of Latinas in World War II.

SDUSD 2022 Honors Theatre Devised Project

La Jolla Playhouse is partnering with the VAPA office of San Diego Unified School District to facilitate and produce the 2022 Honors Theatre Devised Physical Theatre Project. The project brings students together from the 33 SDUSD high schools to devise an original piece of theatre, to premiere at the 2022 WOW Festival. Students are guided by La Jolla Playhouse Teaching Artists, Production Staff, Marketing staff, and by SDUSD School teachers and administrators.

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