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La Jolla Playhouse Kicks Off Inaugural WoW Festival Today

La Jolla Playhouse Kicks Off Inaugural WoW Festival Today

La Jolla Playhouse, nationally-renowned for its commitment to the development of new work and new theatrical forms, presents its inaugural Without Walls (WoW) Festival of site-based work, running today, October 3 - 6, 2013.

This one-of-a-kind Festival will showcase artists and events occurring simultaneously in and around The Playhouse Theatre District, presented by The Playhouse as well as partner institutions UC San Diego (UCSD) and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD). Tickets (free to $25) and a full schedule for the WoW Festival will be available in August by visiting or by calling (858) 550-1010.

In addition to works announced this past January (below), The Playhouse's WoW Festival will also feature seven new works by faculty and students in the UCSD Departments of Theatre & Dance and Music; three new works commissioned by MCASD by acclaimed performance artists James Luna, Kate Gilmore and Jacolby Satterwhite; a co-production of Counterweight, by Jennifer Barclay, directed by Delicia Turner-Sonnenberg, with Playhouse's 2009 Resident Theatre Company MOXIE Theatre, and renowned installation artist Brian Lobel's Carpe Minuta Prima (recently mounted by The Playhouse at the San Diego Fringe Festival).

"Adding to the already incredible line-up of Festival projects, we now bring to the mix a slew of new works that truly make the Festival a city-wide celebration of local, national and International Artists in an explosion of site-based work across our theatre district," said Playhouse Artistic Director Christopher Ashley.

The WoW Festival will feature nearly 20 site-specific works, taking place over four days around The Playhouse/UCSD Theatre District and environs. Inspired by Europe's city-wide theatre festivals, the WoW Festival takes theatre outside the confines of four walls and places it in unexpected and exciting locations, shining a national spotlight on San Diego as it brings site-based work never before seen in the States to our community. The Festival will serve as a cultural and artistic hub, featuring a vibrant Festival Village with complimentary artist talks, food trucks, beer garden, live music and free public performances. The Village will be a space where artists and patrons mingle, where people from different parts of the city meet and exchange ideas, the place to break bread and toast to new friends. As the first of what will hopefully be a biennial event, the WoW Festival is a perfect fit for San Diego - an innovative, outdoor artistic event for a burgeoning arts city.

Funded by generous grants from The James Irvine Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the County of San Diego, as well as corporate support provided by DonorNation, Without Walls is a La Jolla Playhouse program designed to break the physical boundaries of traditional theatre. Since 2010, The Playhouse has been commissioning and presenting a series of site-specific productions at locations throughout the San Diego community.

Partner institution UCSD will present the following works by faculty and students:

Cornerstone is a short play by UCSD M.F.A. candidates David Jacobi and Sarah Wansley in which the audience becomes engineers working at The Central Facilities Plant located at the Center of Civilization. Supplying the world's heat, water, electricity and breathable air is a difficult job, so one shouldn't be distracted by those three workers having a heated discussion on their lunch break about labor, sandwich construction and metaphysics.

Hedda'ing, by San Diego-based performer/choreographer and UCSD M.F.A. candidate Sam Mitchell joins Norway-based dance theatre artists Siri Jondtvedt and Snelle Hall in the cross- cultural dance theatre exploration Hedda'ing. Using Henrik Ibsen's play Hedda Gabler as a source, the production investigates the polarities that exist between the role of home as a sanctuary and as a prison, between memory and reality, and between the existential and the spiritual. Hedda'ing is set in and around artist Do Ho Suh's "Fallen Star" sculpture at the Jacobs School of Engineering.

The Myth Project: Altar, by Patricia Rincon, Head of Dance in UCSD's Theatre & Dance Department, is a new work highlighting Che Café, the iconic, youth-driven institution which has been an eatery and center for independence, political radicalism, alternative music and art since the early 1980s. The production takes audiences on a site-specific journey eliciting flashbacks while constructing a contemporary story that spins through our present social political culture, based on interviews with muralist Mario Torero and writings from archives, blogs and articles.

What does it mean to live the life of a star? Our Star Will Die Alone, created by Project Planetaria's Adam Burgasser, Tara Knight and Michael Trigilio (all UCSD faculty members) will explore this question with a participatory, site-specific performance that follows the lifecycle of our star. Integrating data-driven elements rooted in our scientific understanding of stellar astrophysics, audience members will be given custom electronics to explore fusion, the power source of our star. Through sound, light, projection and a death metal band, this performance will articulate the productive and destructive aspects of stellar evolution.

Pause (for world creation), Wallpaper Performance Company's generative contemporary dance experience, brings live sound artists, lighting designers, dancers and audiences together on a real-time journey into our collective imagination. By weaving an actual conversation between performers and audience, Alicia Peterson Baskel's production offers access to the inner workings of the performers' minds and reveals the mostly absurd and often wonderful imagery that is continuously emerging live on stage.

La perfezione di uno spirito sottile, an operetta by Salvatore Sciarrino and performed by Rachel Beetz, UCSD D.M.A. candidate in music,Stephanie Aston and Dustin Donahue, was born as a ritual of music to be performed in the open, in the vicinity of precipices, cliffs, strange rock formations or boundless upland plains. By committing ourselves to the wind, we may discover something that unites all these places, despite their extreme differences. Throughout the work, a primary condition of contradiction and panic manifests itself in each observer: a losing of one's human dimensions.

A Willow Grows Aslant: An Ophelia Story, by UCSD M.F.A. candidates Kristin Idaszak, Natalie Khuen and Kate Jopson, takes the audience on a journey into the fractured psyche of a young woman torn between her father's political ambitions, her boyfriend's revenge fantasies and her own private dream of becoming a dancer. Creating an immersive, ambulatory experience that is different for each audience member, the labyrinthine corridors of Galbraith Hall's basement will bloom with flowers and broken mirrors as Ophelia's dreams for her future become nightmares in this re-imagining of Hamlet through the eyes of its laconic heroine.

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Additionally, partner institution MCASD will present works by renowned visual and performance artists Kate Gilmore, James Luna and Jacolby Satterwhite:

In Kate Gilmore's Off the Old Block, a group of women chip away at a large plaster cube over the course of many hours. Viewers will witness the slow destruction and transformation of a seemingly impenetrable, art-historically loaded structure in this new performance that addresses themes of historical place, social structures and the gendered body as a tool for change.

In Futuristic Retro Ritual, a new work commissioned by MCASD, celebrated performance and conceptual artist James Luna takes up the iconic image of the American Indian storyteller as a vehicle for his narratives of contemporary Indian life. A Pooyukitchum/Luiseño Indian living on the La Jolla Reservation in northern San Diego County, Luna's fireside stories incorporate multimedia elements and music, interweaving past and present, autobiography and cultural identity, with poignancy and humor.

Orifice II offers a site-specific, performative video installation in which Jacolby Satterwhite performs as one of the avatars that appear in his 3-D computer animations. Expanding and blurring the spatial barriers between video and live action arenas, Satterwhite performs a provisionally choreographed dance based on the drawings he often references in his video practice, with variables in the performance shifting in response to his audience.

MCASD will also help launch the WoW Festival with a special version of their signature "TNT" event to take place at La Jolla Playhouse onThursday, October 3. TNT, which stands for Thursday Night Thing, is typically held three times each year at MCASD's downtown location. It is a dynamic event that brings together artist talks and performances, hands-on activities, live music and cocktails, all inspired by the exhibitions on view.

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The WoW Festival will also include works by London-based artist Brian Lobel and former Playhouse Resident Theatre Company Moxie Theatre:

In Carpe Minuta Prima, created by Brian Lobel and performed by Christina Aushana and Sean Estelle, Lobel and his assistants ask passersby to sell him a minute of their time for $1. If they agree to the Mephistophelian pact, they are brought into an unadorned closet and are filmed doing anything they wish for 1 minute, after which they and are asked to sign over ownership. Later, all the videos are unveiled to the public on individual DVDs, each a unique art object. Each DVD is then available to buy for the price of $1. Lobel's acclaimed installation playfully explores themes of economy, the value of our time and what it means to sign away your soul.

Counterweight: An Elevator Love Play, a co-production with Moxie Theatre, written by Jennifer Barclay and directed by Delicia Turner Sonnenberg, takes audiences on a ride on Betty Jean's elevator, where she'll offer up voyeuristic peeks into three couples' stories across three different floors. Lennox and Gracie are packing for their post-retirement dream trip, Liv and Teresa are in the midst of a role-play gone sour, and Ed and Coco are teenagers on a midnight rendezvous in their school's boiler room. Counterweight is a fun, intimate examination of love through the prism of closing doors and constant motion.

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