The self-styled "theater pariahs" of Colorado Springs launch their most ambitious season yet, with nine shows ranging from Shakespeare to the super-surreal. Having its own downtown space has allowed Theatre 'd Art to think bigger and stage almost twice the number of plays it performed last year, says co-founder Brian Mann. Among them: three locally written pieces and several experimental, rarely seen works.
"Often people seem to turn off their brain when they sit down," says co-founder Jonathan Margheim about typical theater audiences. But this season, audience members can expect to be "immersed" in the theatrical action, and will often be active participants instead of passive observers.
In JoB, a show based on the surrealist 1920s French play Jet of Blood, audiences will actually "move through the play instead of letting it wash over them," says Margheim, who directs. "Parts of our new building are delightfully creepy and have a Shining-esque vibe," he explains.
Margheim envisions the audience exploring some of these spooky rooms, encountering different scenarios depending on where they end up. Opening Sept. 23, the show will feature not only actors but "installation art," musicians and even sculpture. "It's a bit like a haunted house, although that's a cheesy parallel," he explains.
Later in the fall, the "creep" will continue with Grand Guignol, a Halloween-inspired revival of a TdA favorite: several short 19th-century horror plays interspersed with burlesque and vaudeville acts. Next comes Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, followed by, among many others, an original show Mann describes as Lord of the Flies-meets-office-comedy.
The "immersion experiment" will continue later in the season with Reservoir Dogs. Mann says audiences can expect to be within feet of the actors and action. Multiple scenes playing simultaneously in different places will force audience members to choose what they want to focus on, and sitting passively will not be an option because there will be no chairs.