The July/August cover of American Theatre magazine features "STRATA," an August 2012 project of the Pittsburgh theater company Bricolage and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.
By Sharon Eberson Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Bricolage Production Company's ambitious "STRATA," a theatrical event that occupied a Downtown building last summer, is featured on the cover of American Theatre magazine's July-August edition exploring immersive audience experiences in the United States.
The article "The Walls Come Tumbling Down" by Diep Tran covered the trend toward site-specific installations that demand complete interaction by audience members. "The effect, as I learned firsthand, is akin to a real-life 'Final Fantasy'-esque role-playing game where the viewer is completely enclosed in the world of the play and becomes an active participant. In these works -- mounted by groups like Dog & Pony Theatre Company in Chicago and ... Washington, D.C.; We Players of San Francisco; Bricolage Production Company of Pittsburgh; Third Rail Projects of New York City; and, most famously, the British company Punchdrunk, generators of the wildly popular Macbeth takeoff 'Sleep No More' -- you may find yourself sipping tea at the Mad Tea Party, dancing at prom or hitting a stormy battlefield alongside a regiment of characters."
It was last August that audience members who purchased an online ticket to "STRATA" -- Strategic Training Research And Testing Agency -- were directed to an outdoor site in the Pittsburgh Cultural District and guided to a then secret location (three floors and 24,000 feet of the former Bally Total Fitness Club on Sixth Street). For two hours, participants were subjected to "refitnessing" in order to reach "iConsciousness." Each person followed an individual path so that no two experiences were alike.
The theater event, presented in partnership with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, was a collaboration among lead artist Riley Harmon and Clear Story and Jeffrey Carpenter, Gab Cody, Tami Dixon, Rob Long, Andrew J. Paul, Nina Sarnelle, plus a huge production team.
" 'STRATA' tested the boundaries of what theater is and can be," said Mr. Carpenter, artistic director at Bricolage. "This type of devised, contextual, immersive approach has emblazoned our vision for the future as we continue to find new ways of engaging our audience in adventurous, provocative theater for a new era."
American Theatre magazine is published by Theatre Communications Group, the leading independent publisher of dramatic literature in the U.S.
'Side by Side' says early goodbye
Pittsburgh CLO's "Side by Side by Sondheim" is closing July 14, more than a month ahead of its original Aug. 18 end date. Filling in some of the dates is "Defending the Caveman," which now arrives Aug. 1 and runs through Oct. 20. "Caveman" had a successful visit to the Cabaret at Theater Square from Oct. 22, 2011, to January 2012, when it was extended a week.
"Side by Side" is a revue of Stephen Sondheim's early works featuring Lenora Nemetz, Daniel Krell, Billy Hepfinger and Caroline Nicolian. For tickets, 412-456-6666.
On the web
Watch for the results of the National High School Musical Theater Awards announced Monday night in New York at post-gazette.com/ae/theater-dance.