|CINCINNATI – Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s immersive theatrical experiences return this fall with the 2020-21 Off the Grid series. The line-up features virtual and socially distanced opportunities that include streaming audio dramas, interactive shadow cast film events, a spooky site-specific theatrical experience in late October and a “Zoom Dunnit” mystery. Events will take place throughout the Greater Cincinnati region.
“The purpose of Off the Grid series has always been to reimagine the nature of theatrical storytelling with site-specific experiences like our 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at the Newport Aquarium or creative social connections like Beauty and the Bourbon Tasting at New Riff Distillery,” says Blake Robison, artistic director. “Adjusting the programming to work during our current health crisis was a natural extension of the unconventional approach Off the Grid has been taking for the past five years.”
New this year is THE POD PLAYS PROJECT, which makes creative use of technology, storytelling and outdoor space. The Playhouse commissioned two playwrights to choose a unique location in Cincinnati and write an original audio play that makes use of that setting. When listeners tune in to the audio file and begin the play, they’ll be guided through the location as the story unfolds, interacting with the same views, spots and markers as the characters in the story they’re streaming.
Two pod plays are available to stream now at cincyplay.com. They can be experienced at the convenience of the listener and are free of charge:
Written by Trey Tatum
Set in Alms Park, the story follows Kaylan and Cece, who form an unlikely friendship after working through the trials of a school project about flight. Their journey includes an exploration of Alms Park and all its hidden gems, as well as an exploration of the history of aviation.
RICHIE AND BLANCHE
Written by Isaiah Reaves
Taking place on the Purple People Bridge (starting at Newport on the Levee), the story finds a mother and son at a crossroads. Their relationship had taken a turn after Richie came out to his parents, setting off five years of estrangement. Their emotional journey includes a walk across the Purple People Bridge as they take in the beautiful sites and views of the Ohio River and Cincinnati Skyline.
“What’s key is that we have a live and interactive element to everything. Even the pod plays, which are pre-recorded, are meant to be experienced at the site, as if you are in the moment of the story with the characters,” says Daunielle Rasmussen, director of education and community engagement at the Playhouse and the director/producer of the Off the Grid events. “We have an exciting mix of new efforts, such as the Pod Plays, along with the types of programs we’ve been developing and refining since the beginning of Off the Grid – like shadow cast film events and site-specific theatrical experiences.”
The fall schedule of date specific Off the Grid events is listed below:
THE SHADOW CAST FILM SERIES features actors reenacting cult classic films in front of an audience as the movie plays on the big screen behind them — a la Rocky Horror Picture Show. All shadow cast events will take place at the Mariemont Theatre. Cost is $12. For tickets, visit mariemonttheatre.com.
Thursday, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m.
In the 2006 hit musical Dreamgirls, three female soul singers find their dreams of musical stardom coming true (and their personal lives forever changed) in the early 1960s. This special screening will feature a live shadow cast performance for an interactive event.
- HAROLD & KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE
Thursday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m.
Harold and Kumar set out to satisfy their munchies and encounter some wild and hilarious surprises along the way in this cult comedy screening. Audiences may find themselves as part of the screening and performance as a group of actors perform a live shadow cast.
AN IMMERSIVE, SITE-SPECIFIC THEATRICAL EXPERIENCE arrives in time for Halloween.
- CHILDREN OF THE CORN MAZE
Written by Trey Tatum
Saturday, Oct. 24.
Burger Farm and Garden Center, located at 7849 Main St. (Rt. 32)
Cost is $20. For tickets, visit cincyplay.com.
Strange things are happening in the cornfields of Burger Farm… There are whispers of supernatural events and sightings of monstrous creatures, and everything is becoming a little spookier than usual. With fun nods to horror and thriller favorites from Stephen King to Ghostbusters, a twisted tale unfolds as audiences walk the haunted trail. Timed entries leave every 10 minutes between 6:40 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and should be reserved in advance. Suitable for ages 13 and up.
- PUMPKIN PARTY
While the grown-ups walk the haunted trail, kids ages 4 to 12 can attend a 90-minute Pumpkin Party for $10. Each session includes excursions in the Pumpkinland maze, pumpkin crafts and Halloween-themed movies like It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
AN INTERACTIVE WHODUNNIT will be hosted via Zoom.
- NANCY BREW ZOOM DUNNIT
Written by Margot H.G. Manburg
Thursday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m.
Cost is $10. For tickets, visit cincyplay.com.
Armchair detectives can log in from home to track down the culprit of a crime. Participants will break out into teams, observe scenes, track clues and interact with characters to solve a mystery, virtually.
More information on all the events can be found at cincyplay.com. Additional Off the Grid events are planned for 2021, including two shadow cast events: Girls Trip on Feb. 4 and Mean Girls on April 1. The remaining events will be announced later.
Seasonal support of education and outreach programming is provided by The Robert and Adele Schiff Family Foundation. The Playhouse is supported by the generosity of almost 40,000 contributors to the ArtsWave Community campaign. The Ohio Arts Council helps fund the Playhouse with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. The Playhouse also receives funding from the Shubert Foundation.
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