The call came last Wednesday. Party This Weekend, a site specific theatre production set at a house party, needed a new location. Party This Weekend is the brainchild of my Delinquent Theatre partner Laura McLean and Scarlet Satin Productions’ Diana Squires. Written by Arlen Kristian Tom, Taylor Basso, Josephine Mitchell and Diana, the play takes place at a private residence. Audience members are assigned a party guest to follow throughout the night, and friends are encouraged to split up and watch different sides of the story. There are acoustic guitar ballads, drinking games, dance parties and tearful revelations. It’s a fun night at the theatre and an astonishing accomplishment in terms of logistics and stage management, and I had been a big fan of it. And now the time came that Party This Weekend needed our help, a new and bigger house – and my roomies and I stepped up to the challenge.
It’s sure easy to say you love and believe in site-specific theatre – it’s a whole other thing to make it happen. In your own living space. With 40+ people. The stage management team arrived hours after we agreed to host, and we began cleaning and clearing the space – family photos and identifying details were taken down and stashed away. After all, the house needs to appear to be the family home of Gen, Brij and Carmindy, not Christine, Arlen, Megs and Kim. We quickly determined my bedroom needed to host a few scenes – instantly it became trashy teenage menace Carmindy’s room. Down came my show posters and scripts, and up went posters of shirtless men and lingerie hanging off every piece of furniture. Before we knew it, it was Friday night and we welcomed almost 50 audience members and actors to our home. The show must go on!
If I may digress and use my fancy BFA academic skills here, I just want to say what an interesting experience this has been in understanding how site specific theatre works. I have always thought a major aspect of the form was re-contextualizing familiar spaces. Bridge Mix, for example, took place in a parking lot, but the audience was opened to so many possibilities for story and setting within a mundane urban habitat. In that same way, acting as an audience member on the first night, I got to see my house in a whole different way. Entering my room with the audience with the understanding that it was Carmindy’s room allowed me to see it as the audience did – my personal items that have their own context to me took on whole new meanings in the setting of Party This Weekend. It was really fascinating to see how our home, with some set decoration, became part of the story, and how I along with 30 audience members came to understand it in a whole new way.
It’s been a blast having the talented cast and ninja-like stage management team of Party This Weekend in our house. Hosting a theatre event has been crazy, and at times alarming (at one point the hostess is looking for something important in my/Carmindy’s room – “check the drawers!” BOOM, my underwear drawer is opened) but it’s been a real honor to be part of such an ambitious and wildly fun theatrical experience. PTW runs tonight and tomorrow night at 8PM -I hear they are sold out, but are taking a waiting list. Check their website for more details. Party at my house!