Theater without the seat
By Alejandra Enciso Guzmán
Sometimes the word “theater” can be an intimidating one. Different festivals and companies around the world are recognizing that feeling of intimidation and have designed productions in non-theater related spaces like basketball courts, school yards, parking lots and so on. San Diego is also exploring this dynamic with events such as The Fringe and WoW (Without Walls) festivals.
Each festival, as with every project, entails a learning process. Since the WoW festival is designed to happen every two years, there are several shows in prep for it which give people the idea of the festival. These shows also act as a thermometer, testing out audience’s response to the building hype.
“The Grift,” the latest presentation in the WoW series, is a very particular, creative and innovative way to not only attract new audiences but to also boost teamwork and new relations and friendships. This theatrical event was created exclusively for the Lafayette Hotel, a California boutique hotel located in North Park since 1946.
“The Grift” has been well-received. This show started its run on January 27th and was scheduled to have the last performance on February 22nd. Well, the demand was high and people wanted more, so the show has been extended until Sunday March 22nd.
The site-specific setting accommodates only fifty people, who upon arrival, receive a set of detailed instructions crucial for the plot. Ben has lived in the hotel his entire life and is in need of help in order to make his last wish come true. Audience members walk through various key spaces inside of the hotel to put together Ben’s message.
They will not be alone in this journey. Hotel staff members who have been part of Ben’s life will assist. Leaving the “fourth wall” behind, not only the actors but also the audience have a say or at least a chance to have a say about what is transpiring. They even have the opportunity to explore artistic strengths such as melody, piano and role playing.
This is not your traditional sit down play with intermission and key applause moments, no. “The Grift” is a walk around experience with food and drink in the mix. It pushes competitiveness, anxiety and the search for justice to the fullest. For those who are intimidated at the thought of going to the theater this is the show to go to. It demonstrates the broad reach that the performing arts can have.
Written by Tom Salamon, the cast features Yvette Angulo as “The Chambermaid’s Granddaughter,” Jim Chovick as “Ben,” Lucas Coleman as “The Bartender’s Grandson,” Bernard Kopsho (Accomplice: San Diego) as “Chicago Joe,” Dana Lau as “The Nanny’s Great-granddaughter,” Scott Nickley as “The Lifeguard’s Grandson,” Cris O’Bryon as “The Bellhop’s Grandson” and Matt Thompson as “Narrator.”
The experience includes some walking with several stairs. Patrons are advised to wear comfortable walking shoes.
Performances run at the Lafayette Hotel at 2223 El Cajon Blvd on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:00pm; Fridays at 6:00pm and 8:30pm; Saturdays at 3:00pm, 6:00pm and 8:30pm; and Sundays at 6:00pm. Parking is available outside the hotel and around the block.
Tickets are $45 dollars and are available at 1-858-550-1010 or online .