After walking through the doors of Gunder Mansion, the hostess hands each patron a piece of paper – some pink, some blue. It is easy enough to observe that the pieces of paper are different colors, but little do you know that upon accepting the paper, you may be signing up for a completely different production than the strangers next to you, or even your companion for the evening.
(Re)Discover Theatre presents FOR ONE
(Re)Discover Theatre markets their production of FOR ONE as “a series of plays built for an audience of one.” While this may be hard to imagine before witnessing the production for oneself, it is actually perfect way to describe the experience.
FOR ONE is comprised of nine plays split amongst two tracks – UP CLOSE and PERSONAL. When handed a piece of paper at the beginning, the patron quickly learns that each color represents a track, and the plays within that path will make up the production they are about to see. This writer received a blue piece of paper, and experienced the UP CLOSE TRACK.
As if this was not leaving enough to chance, the creators have added a whole other level. The guides for the evening (Jay Van Ort, Sonja Mata, and Song Marshall), hand each patron a tarot card with a symbol on it, and that symbol represents the first play that they will see. Upon that play’s completion, the patron receives a new tarot card, and the new symbol represents the second play. By the end, each patron in a given track sees the same plays, but in different orders, and by themselves. What is the result?
“A series of plays built for an audience of one.”
Clever Staging and Site Specific
FOR ONE is site specific, and the 21 actor/creators clearly embrace all of the exciting, and challenging, components of Gunder Mansion. While one play takes place in a bathroom, another takes place in a closet. One play utilizes a larger bedroom space, and another finds itself on a staircase.
Because the production is immersive, each creator must not only find the best way to stage their play in the nontraditional setting, but also figure out how to draw the audience member into the action. One play in particular that rises to this challenge is Eugenia, which finds its home on a staircase.
Director/Devised by Ann Kreitman and choreographed by Mary O’Rourke, the piece features three dancers: Lara Dohner, Karissa Murrell Myers, and Ligia Sandoval. The story alone is interesting – a young girl is tempted towards darkness and becomes a vampire. The dancers tell the story through moving about the space and rising through different levels on and around the staircase.
O’Rourke’s choreography is intriguing, and the three dancers are clearly talented. Their rhythm is spot-on and they are able to successful convey the story through their movement. However, Kreitman’s creativity does not stop there. The way in which Kreitman utilizes the audience is through a series of phone calls – the patron is meant to pick up the phone after it rings, and on the other end, a voice tells the story behind the movement. Suddenly the patron is not only watching the scary story unfold, but can also hear it through a distant voice on the other end.
The piece is captivating, and the combination of tech and movement contributes to that feeling.
Each play is different, and that is part of the fun. Also surprising to discover however, was that some of the stories are so heavily based on the choices of the patrons. No one individual will have the same adventure. Over the course of the evening, this writer experienced conversations about memory, happiness, and even the choice to have children.
One particularly memorable experience of the night was participating in Take Care of Yourself. Conceived by Avi Roque and Genvieve Locksley, directed by Freddy-May AbiSamra, and performed by Selene Perez, this play explores the importance of finding peace amidst the craziness of life. Perez offers the individual various ways to care for the mind, body, and emotional state, and the choice on how to spend the time in the given “story” is completely up to the audience member.
The play may be unconventional, but the message is clear, and Perez’s warm presence helps the participants feel at ease in expressing what they need to take care of themselves in that moment.
New and exciting, FOR ONE should not be missed. (Re)Discover is doing something daring, and this company is certainly one to keep an eye out for.
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO. Click here to read — Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago.
Through September 30, 2017
Wednesdays at 7:30pm and 8:30pm
Thursdays at 7:30pm and 8:30pm
Fridays at 7:30pm and 8:30pm
Saturdays at 6:30pm, 7:30pm, and 8:30pm
Run Time: 1 hour per track, no intermission
6129 N. Sheridan Road
Chicago, IL 60660
Cody Jolly Photography
About the Author:
Lauren Katz is a freelance director and dramaturge, and new to the Chicago Theatre Scene. She recently moved from Washington DC, where she worked with Mosaic Theater Company of DC in Company Management, as well as directed around town with various theaters.