I was not at the WoW Festival for long on Saturday, but things looked quite familiar and a little different. The familiar was the general layout, the ever-changing food trucks, and the fact that parking was easy; in fact, I’ve parked in the same area each day. The difference was that I saw more families on site than during the previous days. There were especially a number of small children in evidence, and they were having a ball in Revelle Plaza, normally a hangout for UCSD students. While students were much in evidence during the first two days (some taking notes for class assignments), their numbers had diminished for the weekend. It is still early in the term, and a lot of students who live on campus are probably going home on the weekends. Parents may be glad or dismayed to know that this going-home behavior will change as the term progresses.
There was an arts and crafts area to keep children occupied, and a shaved ice food truck for treats, but the main attraction was We Built This City. This “performance” from Australia’s Polygot company starts with an area where there are lots of cardboard boxes stacked and then uses the creativity of its audience to create a city out of the boxes. At the end, everyone gets to admire the creation and then wreck it to a pile of rubble.
The group I saw was dominated by quite small children, whose parents were hovering. It appeared as though the children would start on the project and the parents might jump in to help as needed. There was quite a bit of excited anticipation as the project got underway, and though I wasn’t able to stay around to see the final result, I’m sure it was lots of fun.
At the other performance I attended, I saw some of what I had hoped to see throughout the festival: people talking about theatre. As we were waiting for the performance to begin, one woman struck up a conversation with a young couple, who, it turned out, were theatre creators and performers. Others joined in, and the group began to talk about the differences between “site-specific theatre,” theatre performed in non-theatrical places, and “immersive” theatre.
I’ve seen similar conversations “on the bricks,” a space between theatre entrances at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. But, OSF is a long-established festival with patrons who return for a play-going intensive each year. There is an established tradition of striking up conversations with strangers, but it usually takes a while. I was glad to see that sort of thing happening on Saturday. [php snippet=1]The performance itself featured the Wallpaper Performance Company and was titled Pause (for world creation). The company is local, and their artistic director, Alicia Peterson Baskel, is a recent UCSD MFA graduate and faculty member. The dancers performed (without music and in the sun) on the lower plaza of Galbraith Hall, ignoring the sounds of the children playing nearby. Aspects of the performance were timed, and when time had elapsed the audience was told that what they had seen had been improvised and had been created based on images the performers had in their heads ahead of beginning, as well as images and feelings that developed while they were performing. Each performer then spent some time describing those images and how they responded to them, prompting the other members to respond to the movements being described.
Sunday is the final day of the festival, and I’ll go for one more look. You’ll be able to read my wrap-up reactions on Monday.