miércoles, 4 de febrero de 2015

Glenn Ricci and an mesmeric experience with Edgar Allan Poe

“WHATEVER doubt may still envelop the rationale of mesmerism, its startling facts are now almost universally admitted…”

Intrigued by the awesome potential of an immersive theater dramatization at The Enoch Pratt House of Edgar Allan Poe’s Mesmeric Revelations, Jaquematepress contacted Glenn Ricci, producer and co-director. “It probably comes from my obsession, starting at a very early age, with haunted houses and all forms of immersive experiences,” he said.

How did you get involved with immersion theatre?
From video games to installation art, virtual reality, concept albums, rides at Universal
Studios, or campfire ghost stories, I've always been drawn to invented
environments and created worlds. Telling stories within such worlds--where
there is no barrier between the audience and the performers--is not such a
new idea, but it still feels fresh and exciting. Unlike the experience of
seeing a play on a stage, there are no specific expectations with
immersive theater and you get to create your own rules for how the world
works and how people interact with it.

        Is the training for Immersion Theater similar to that for other actors,
 or does it involve special techniques?

      We have been using a wide range of exercises for the performers to build
their characters and discover how they respond to each other and their
environment. My Co-director, Susan Stroupe, brings in a number of
techniques she's picked up from her years of directing and teaching. Our
Movement Coordinator, Michele Minnick led a workshop for our ensemble that
employed Environmental Theater techniques, rasaboxes, and a range of
movement exercises. While not specifically created for immersive theater,
they fit very well with what we are doing. Most of the exercises I added
to the mix involved building skills for 1:1 interactions. Put together,
all these techniques become the building blocks for the devising process
we have used to create this work.
       Could you tell us about the upcoming experience with E.A. Poe?

       I've been wanting to combine the small, intimate scale of a show like Then
She Fell with the free-roaming exploration of a larger show like Sleep No
More. The audience will be limited to 25 guests and there will be six
characters, so at any point you should be able to find a character who is
not crowded. There will be moments of interaction out in the open as well
as hidden, private spaces. Those who are most curious, polite, open, and
observant may be drawn into the story. Those who wish to hang back and
watch from a more removed vantage point, or just explore the sets, are
also welcome to do so. The characters are derived from individuals in Poe's life as well as his fiction. Sometimes the two are mixed in the same character, so interpreting who is who at a given moment will be part of the fun. We are focusing heavily on the women in Poe's fiction. His mother, his wife, other love interests, and his portrayal of female beauty and death in his works all connect in interesting ways.

 In your opinion what is the state of theatrical activity in your area
 and in the country?

I'm new to the Baltimore theater community, but I was amazed and
overwhelmed by the creativity, talent, energy, and all-around positivity
you find here. This project may be different and strange in a lot of ways,
but nobody scoffed at me. They just said "Cool! You should do it! Let me
know how I can help." That basically sums up the attitude here, especially
of the DIY Theater groups. Most of our performers are alums of the theater
departments at Towson University or UMBC and I'm very glad they stayed
here rather than ran right of to NYC because they all bring a lot to the
table. I know, at the very least, if we blow a fuse and the sound and
lights give out, that their performances could still carry the day. Both locally and around the country, I feel that immersive theater has a
lot of potential to grow and reach new people who are not necessarily
inclined to go to a play. It asks people to engage in artwork in different
ways. Hopefully those folks will then continue to be drawn out to plays
and other related artworks as well.
While attending art shows from all the local galleries and theater houses,
I've quickly discovered that the theater and artistic community is not
competing against each other. They are competing as a group against
Netflix and the many enticements that keep people at home and disengaged
from their vibrant local art scene. Anything that gets new people excited
about art and theater is a win for all of us.

          Do you have another project in mind?

         Yes! But I have not told a single soul about it. Ask me again in a year.
Neither an historical reenactment nor a reproduction of Poe’s stories, the two hour Mesmeric experience invites audiences into a Poe-inspired world to explore and learn, sharing moments with the characters, interacting with them.
The performance has been scheduled for 8pm March 26 to May 1st at The Enoch Pratt House, Baltimore,located at the Maryland Historical Society, 201 West Monument street, Maryland. 
Information and tickets: info@myedgarallanpoe.com / http://www.myedgarallanpoe.com

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