Block 428: May 9, 2014

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The workshop in Irvine opens tonight.


Date: May 9, 2014

Crane: 428

Days Spent on Project: 446

Location: West Hollywood, CA

Person I would have sent it to: Samantha J.

The summer of 2007, when I worked at Peninsula Players in Wisconsin, I was lucky enough to have a costume shop manager overseeing the entire season. Sam was a graduate student, still studying costume design, and was tasked with the big burden of helping me finish the three shows I designed.

I really couldn’t have done it without her. Truth.

She tackled the big things (so many wigs!), and kept up with me as we tried to control a huge musical, a contemporary farce, and a small 4 person show.

We haven’t really talked since that summer, but I do know she’s based in Chicago. Last time I checked in, she had been designing a show or two every once and a while for Pen Players. Glad she’s still at it.

Music I listened to while sewing: This morning, I’ve got Spotify playing randomly chosen songs. That was just Sia, LCD Soundsystem, and now Katy Perry.

Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: So, The California Project opens tonight, and I’m really excited about all of it.

In nine three hour rehearsals, we managed to sculpt an actual immersive experience that runs about 45 minutes long. We’ve figured out a way to stage the piece, and use the outdoor spaces we have access to, so that there are at least 3 different things happening at any one given moment. We’ve figured out a way to start the show with the group of audience members together, have them scatter throughout the space, and then get shepherded back to a central location for a final scene.

With all the content going around the space, three story lines going on, we estimate that we have about an hour and 20 to 30 minutes of content overall.

That’s amazing!

And we had a small preview audience last night of, perhaps, ten people. Composed mainly of professors in the drama department, and a few friends of cast members, they stuck around for the entire event. At the end, the professors enjoyed it. Some people were confused by what exactly happened, but explained that they wanted to come back for a second time to piece together more of the story.


A few people were excited about the use of the space. Having the actors wander around outside, amongst people who weren’t involved with the show, made the audience question everything that was happening around them. Were the three banana peels in a line on the patio a part of the design? Was that caterer who threw out a bucket of water a character? Audience members commented that they actually saw the buildings around us- buildings they walk around daily for work and school- for the first time. Was there always a door there?


On top of all the things I learned about the text I’ve been writing since last summer, on top of learning about how to approach staging this, on top of learning about what helps in a rehearsal, and so on… We actually kinda succeeded overall. We made a freaking immersive event.

Before I came out here, my creating-partner and I were trying to figure out if this was a project we wanted to continue exploring and fleshing out. I think it’s safe to say that we do. I certainly want to explore creating these experiences further; I do think there’s something exciting to be uncovered and found with this style. Asking audience members to engage with an event- beyond simply “theater in the round”- and to invest personally and physically throughout an event’s actions… the payoff can be really exciting and valuable.

I want to do more of this.

Now, how?

Where to go and what to do?

5 thoughts on “Block 428: May 9, 2014

  1. Pingback: Block 428: May 9, 2014 | Tinseltown Times

  2. That sounds so super amazing!!! I’m so excited for you, and the fact that you seem to be so excited about this….and what more it could possibly become! If i weren’t in the situation i’m in and need to be financially prudent….this post has me so excited that i want to go jump on a plane, fly out to cali and see this tomorrow! it would be a great weekend getaway and i’ve been wanting to make a trip to LA and get out of NYC for a while now. but alas, i must resist temptation and keep my wallet in my pocket! LOL its sounds very intriguing though, and i’m not sure that its possible from the setup you have described, but if you can take some video of it and share that way, i think it’d be kinda cool to see. or maybe that’s not possible?! maybe logistically it wouldn’t work or make sense even if you did….or maybe you’re involved and wouldn’t be able to do it anyways, as you’d be in character or something?!?!
    Anywho……it sounds fun, it sounds amazing, and i’m proud of you for exploring your dreams and making them become a reality! Through the “A Thousand Quilted Cranes Project” and through “The California Project”. You truly are sharing a wonderful gift with others in this world. I’ve been reading through all your posts, and the feedback from others along the way. And granted, i’m not very far along the way (only into the mid-70’s i think…so about 20% of the way), but it seems like you’ve touched many people and have been very inspirational and motivational to people. I know for me personally, you’ve definitely piqued my interest, captured so many thoughts and feelings that i too have had, invoked many memories (some good, some not so good) of my past that i would have never otherwise probably even thought about or had come up again. i’ve literally sat on the couch reading these and found myself in tears at times, and smiling and giggling as i remember fondly some memories at other times. Just like your fabric shopping adventures and finding colors from one end of the spectrum to the other, i’ve found many feelings from one end of the spectrum to the other….and emotional Roy G Biv, if you will!

    Btw, i’d love to meet up when you get back to NY. unfortunately, i think by the time you get back, i’ll be gone myself for a while, so it’ll be forever and a day away! but, i’m back the 17th of June. and i saw that Fuerza Bruta will be starting up in NY again at the end of June. I think the are in previews June 25-July 31. I’ve been once before with some friends and it was pretty neat. I was thinking you would like it, as its a more interactive theater experience. I’m not sure if you’ve ever been before, but I’d like to take you if you’re interested. If you are, let me know what night of the week would work best for you, and a date that might work? and I think the shows are like 7 or 8pm and then another at 10pm. so if you’d prefer the earlier or the later show? and i’ll buy the tix and we’ll go! =)


        • oh. i figured that was well over a month away and you’d be back from your ventures by then. unless, of course, you think you’re moving to CA now after the last couple weeks?!?! is that why? LOL it was a Groupon thing that was expiring in a few hours, so i bought them. but i can cancel it and book a later date if something else works better if you let me know asap?

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