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Theater Notebook: La Jolla Playhouse’s ‘A Thousand Ways’ aims to create connection

La Jolla Playhouse presents "A Thousand Ways," created by Brooklyn's 600 Highwaymen
“A Thousand Ways,” an interactive theater piece created by Brooklyn’s 600 Highwaymen, will open Jan 21 as part of La Jolla Playhouse’s all-digital Without Walls Festival.
(Courtesy of 600 Highwaymen)

This week’s theater column includes news from Moxie Theatre, San Diego Repertory Theatre and North Coast Rep

La Jolla Playhouse’s all-digital Without Walls Festival continues this week with the opening of “A Thousand Ways,” a new immersive theater piece created by Brooklyn’s 600 Highwaymen theater company.

The interactive theater project is a trio of encounters between strangers that take place over several months.

Part 1, which will begin Thursday, Jan. 21, is a scheduled phone call in which two audience members will be paired together to create a shared fiction through a series of prompts. Part 2 will take place in a few months, when two audience members will sit at a table, separated by a pane of glass, to create another story using a stack of index cards, a handful of objects and a set of instructions. Part 3 will take place when the pandemic ends. All artists and audience members will gather together and, using a shared script, will create a collective experience inspired by the previous encounters.

“A Thousand Ways” was developed as a way for audience members to form connections with each other during the isolation of quarantine. La Jolla Playhouse is one of six theaters nationwide participating in the project.

For Part 1, two anonymous ticket-buyers will be connected for a 45- to 60-minute phone call where they will create a story inspired by a set of written directions. To participate, audience members can book a one-hour time slot on the La Jolla Playhouse website. Tickets are already sold out through Feb. 6, but many slots are still available Feb. 7 through 14. The project is recommended for audience members ages 16 and up. Tickets are $25. Visit lajollaplayhouse.org/wow-goes-digital/a-thousand-ways/.

Meanwhile, another Without Walls production, the sermonlike film series “Spittin’ Truth to Power While Light Leaping for the People,” has introduced an audience-interactive element. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Spittin’ Truth co-creators Shammy Dee and Alyce Smith Cooper have challenged audience members to create their own “sermon” videos, which could be spoken word, movement or visual art using the pieces original music as inspiration. Instructions on how to participate can be found at bit.ly/2NghJFN. The three “Spittin’ Truth” videos can be streamed at lajollaplayhouse.org/wow-goes-digital/light-leaping/.

Klezmerata Fiorentina, a klezmer band based in Florence, Italy
Klezmerata Fiorentina, a klezmer band based in Florence, Italy, will join actor/playwright Hershey Felder in a new online play “Before Fiddler,” which San Diego Repertory Theatre will present on Feb. 7.
(Courtesy photo)

San Diego Rep hosts Felder’s ‘Before Fiddler’

San Diego Repertory Theatre will present the world premiere of Hershey Felder’s latest “Live from Florence” play with music at 5 p.m. Feb. 7.

“Before Fiddler — Live from Florence” will star Felder and the Klezmerata Fiorentina band, in a new play with music about Sholem Aleichem, the Ukraine-born Jewish author and playwright whose Yiddish stories about Tevye the milkman were turned into the Broadway musical “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Since the pandemic began, Felder has been producing online theater from his home in Florence, Italy. That’s where he met the Klezmerata Fiorentina, a quartet of musicians who are also members of Florence’s Maggio Musicale symphony. Felder will play Aleichem describing his life before his Tevye stories came to fame in the 1960s. Aleichem, the pen name for Solomon Naumovich Rabinovich, died in New York City in 1916.

Tickets are $55 and can be purchased at sdrep.org.

Moxie announces co-production of ‘I and You’

Moxie Theatre is teaming up with Orange County’s The Electric Theatre Company to co-produce a filmed production of Lauren Gunderson’s play “I and You,” which will stream in March. Actors Miles Henry and Justine Sombilon will co-star in this bittersweet romantic comedy about two teenage misfits who find each other through a Walt Whitman poem.

The production will be directed by Callie Prendiville and filmed onstage at Moxie Theatre in Rolando. The play will be presented for individual stream times at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. Sundays, March 4 through 28. Tickets are $25. Visit moxietheatre.com/IANDYOU.

North Coast Rep extends show streams

North Coast Repertory Theatre has extended the online run of three plays it opened last year. “A Christmas Carol” and “An Iliad” are both available for streaming through Jan. 24. “Necessary Sacrifices” streams through March 7. Tickets for each play are $35 at northcoastrep.org.

Pam Kragen writes about theater for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Email her at pam.kragen@sduniontribune.com.


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