Production Company: La Jolla Playhouse
Produced by: Various
Directed by: Various
Experience a weekend of fun April 21 -24 at ARTS DISTRICT Liberty Station where local, national and international artists come together to WOW you.
This year’s festival offers twenty-four events combining spectacle, dance, theatre, opera and circus performance. There are boundary-breaking world premieres and new works, from intimate one-on-one experiences to epic storytelling spectacle. Design your own WOW Festival experience – choose a relaxing full day of free performances at the Festival Hub, or an action packed day comprised of intimate, ticketed shows along with exciting spectacle performances. However you decide to spend your time with us, we hope you will come more than once and bring friends and family!
Below titles in grey have written reviews. Scroll over title and when it turns green, click to read!
From Mister and Mischief (Los Angeles) 40 Watts from Nowhere chronicles the true story of Sue Carpenter, a restless magazine editor turned radio pirate. In 1995, Sue poured every penny she had into creating an illegal radio station, KBLT, in her closet, which transformed her apartment into the secret heartbeat of the Silver Lake music scene. Over three years, she built an enduring underground community welcoming misfit music lovers into her home and onto the air almost 24 hours a day. Part memoir and part playable theatre, this experiential live documentary puts audiences into Sue’s DJ booth as they run the station, play music, share their voices, and attempt to avoid legal and financial ruin at the hands of the FCC.
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.
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.
From Dominique Salerno (New York) The Box Show is a hilarious, edgy solo piece where one woman performs 30 characters from inside a small box. The doors open to reveal a drunken couple in Las Vegas, a lonely Giantess, a lost Pope, the entire Greek Army crammed inside the Trojan Horse, and so much more. With sketch-style characters and musical numbers, The Box Show is a self-contained and fast-paced roller coaster ride that plunges its audience into vastly different worlds without ever leaving the physical space of “The Box.”
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.
From CARPA San Diego Carpa de La Frontera is a site-specific tent-like vaudeville show where entertainment is taken into communities who are in most need of healing from the current pandemic situation. This comic relief performance will address issues such as immigration, race, human rights, accessibility, and culture in a comedic form through performance and visual art, using the concept of the old carpa (tent) style setting used in Mexican during the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s.
C’est pas là, c’est par là (It’s not here, it’s over here)
From Galmae (France) How does the crowd move? Does one move differently when alone, from when being amongst a crowd? What determines the « We »? What is an individual within a group? At the departure, there is a stone. With the stone, there is a string. It is rolled up, tangled and we untangle it. We move about, avoiding collision, negotiating our way we find our place. There is something which surpasses the sum of individuals. At the end of the string, does one find the « We »? Inspired by his own sensations during a demonstration in Seoul in 2015, Galmae proposes a sensitive experience of the collectivity.
Katherine Wilkinson and Elizagrace Madrone (New York) Once upon a time (neither here nor elsewhere but somewhere in between), there was and there was not a child… Finding Avi sends the audience searching for a single child inside a map made from scraps of San Diego’s queer history and fragments of re-imagined fairy tales. What we record and mythologize in our history shapes the possibilities we see in our future as children, as adults, and as everything in between. Finding Avi embraces young, queer people and their ability to make their own choices (and mistakes) while learning who they are – and where they find joy.
The Four Seasons
From San Diego Ballet (ARTS DISTRICT Liberty Station) Walk along an outdoor path, lined with rocks, and take a seat to rest in a woodland glade. As Vivaldi’s The Four Season’s begins to waft through the air, dancers appear among the trees. Rising above the foliage and gliding among the grasses. This site-specific performance of Artistic Director Javier Velasco’s rapturous ballet will be set outdoors for audiences to see, feel, and experience the seasons in a lovely garden setting.
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. The piece uses theater, music, movement and play to 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; 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. 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.
In Lieu of FLWRZ
From SoulKiss Theater (San Diego) In Lieu of FLWRZ is a site-ubiquitous performance piece that highlights theatre, dance and the music of local San Diego-based R&B, Soul and Hip Hop music artists. The piece is the story/visual mixtape of the death of a queer couple’s relationship due to an act of infidelity by one of the partners, told through dance and narrated by the original music of local musicians, performed live by the music artists.
From Malashock Dance (ARTS DISTRICT Liberty Station) Just a Phase is a program of ten short dance pieces, each representing various phases and experiences in everyone’s lives (childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, independence, relationships, community). These small works form a loose narrative, taking the audience on a trip through these life stages. The show features eight dancers from Malashock Dance to tell a story that everyone will relate to. The incredibly compelling music ranges from pop to classical to contemporary.
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.
The Music Sounds Different to Me Now
From Bil Wright (San Diego) Jody is throwing her annual party for her gang of actor, singer, dancer friends. Performers who’ve spent their lives onstage. They step into their stories, funny and poignant – from auditioning for Francis Ford Coppola to playing Cleopatra’s handmaiden in a plastic wig. Featured are NYC dancer/choreographers Kim Grier (artistic director, Rod Rodgers Dance Company), Ellis Wood (artistic director, Ellis Wood Dance) and original music by composer Omari Abdul-Alim. Award-winning writer Bil Wright’s The Music Sounds Different to Me Now, directed by Jacole Kitchen, is not a musical, but you still leave Jody’s studio singing.
The Mystery of Secrets
From San Diego Dance Theatre (ARTS DISTRICT Liberty Station) The Mystery of Secrets offers a progressive exploration of the mysterious and playful nature of secrets. This premiere performance will introduce audiences to four choreographers weaving different perspectives on this illusive topic, traveling in and around the festival hub. Lead artist will be Terry Wilson with choreographers Marcos Duran, and Lavina Rich, featuring the dancers of San Diego Dance Theater and community dancers. The shared whisper of a secret from an audience member could become an explored improvisation.
From TuYo Theater (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.
The Rosin Box Project (San Diego) This new ballet centered around and on the architecture of Liberty Station is innovative new creation that fuses imagination with technology, coupling originally choreographed dance with projection mapping and music to create a fully-immersive, multi-sensory experience. Using the concepts of shapes, architecture, and symmetry, the choreography will be crafted to directly exemplify and blend with the motion graphic design of the projection mapping, resulting in a performance that suspends reality; creating a 3D environment in which body and background environment become one.
From 600 Highwaymen (New York) Obie Award-winning 600 Highwaymen present A Thousand Ways (Part Three): An Assembly, a timely and intimate return to togetherness. The piece brings together an audience of twelve strangers to construct a unique and intimate theatrical event. Using a shared script, an evocative story of perseverance comes into focus, tracing how we consider one another individually and collectively after so much time apart. A Thousand Ways: An Assembly is the final experience of the 600 Highwaymen’s triptych of encounters between strangers. Each installment plumbs the essence of performance, bringing people together in the creation of a moving live experience. The work explores the line between strangeness and kinship, distance and proximity, and how the most intimate assembly can become profoundly radical.
From Animal Cracker Conspiracy (San Diego) Transmythical is a celebratory procession of magic, imagination and inclusivity. This 30-minute procession led by stilt walking mythological creatures, giant puppets, masked characters and musicians will invite audiences to participate in the procession and give them the opportunity to make their own puppet to puppeteer during the pageant.
La Jolla Playhouse Learning & Engagement Projects:
2022 Performance Outreach Program (POP) Tour: Hoopla!
In Hoopla!, by Cheryl L. West and directed by Delicia Turner Sonnenberg, the fifth grade talent show is approaching, and everyone is abuzz at Baldwin Elementary. Winston wants to win the talent show with his cheerleading routine to prove to others that he’s more than the unfriendly “Fishboy” nickname they call him. Introverted artist Gina wants nothing to do with the talent show, and she knows that the overzealous (and generally unpleasant) twin sensations, Randy and Brandy, are probably going to win it all anyway. But with the persistence of Elliott, the school’s new kid and resident rebel, these unlikely friends form Hoopla, a dazzling hula hooping trio, and help each other navigate through the pressures of being a kid.
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.