The Without Walls Festival is almost here, and one of the best parts of this La Jolla Playhouse Festival being held at Liberty Station is that some of the talented artists that make their home at Liberty Station are participating. Theatre Arts School of San Diego calls Liberty Station their home year round, but for the festival they have an original work, PANDORA AND THE JAR OF HOPE , for audiences to enjoy.
The school was founded in 2012 at Liberty Station by Courtney Corey, and produces out-side of the box productions and experiences for the diverse young artists of San Diego. Their WOW show, PANDORA AND THE JAR OF HOPE is a 20 minute, interactive show directed and written by Courtney Corey and Wendy Maples, with music by Matthew Armstrong.
So without further ado, here is a conversation with the talented Ms. Corey and Ms. Maples about their show, the process, and even a few words from their students on what this show means to them.
What excited you about being a part of the WOW festival this year?
Courtney: I LOVE La Jolla Playhouse! They are an incubator for creative ideas for The National Theatre community. I am so honored they are supporting our work in WOW Festival 2019. And I am thrilled they are using the Arts District at Liberty Station as the campus for this event.
Wendy: When Courtney approached me with the idea to create this piece for WOW, it was a no-brainer. The two of us have worked so collaboratively for years, and here’s an opportunity to take our work, and the work at Theatre Arts School of San Diego, to the next level.
What can you tell us about PANDORA AND THE JAR OF HOPE?
Courtney: This is an entirely new way to tell a story in a theatrical way.Our adult actors interact with an audio soundscape of kids and teens voices. We have recorded over a hundred voices of young people right here in San Diego, and their words provide much of the dialogue of the script. PANDORA AND THE JAR OF HOPE addresses the problems of the world as seen through the eyes of today’s younger generation. We want our audience to listen. Listen to their voices.
Matthew Armstrong, the composer, has created stunning music for this piece that intertwines with these voice overs. He is a percussionist who specializes in world and electronic music, and has used a multitude of traditional instruments from around the world to create a contemporary score.
Wendy: PANDORA AND THE JAR OF HOPE is a modern-day Greek fable. We’re taking traditional Greek theatre and bringing it into the present day with real voices of young people today. The Greeks tell us that Pandora opens her jar and unleashes all of the evils in the world and manages to hang onto hope. There’s a beautiful parallel there for our kids today; they’re the ones who are swimming in the sins of generations past- climate change, mental health, gun violence, human rights, racism- but at they same time, they’re told that they are the solution. We’re hanging our hope on them. Is that fair?
As writers of this show, how did you come to this idea and what made you think it was the right fit for WOW?
Courtney: I saw THE JUNGLE last spring at The Curran in San Francisco, which was created by Good Chance Theatre. It centered on the refuge crisis in Calais, France. It was intensely immersive, and the stories were both deeply personal and epic in proportion. I knew I wanted to produce theatre like that. Kids and teens right here in San Diego are dealing with so many issues that need that kind of platform. I wanted to write a piece that gave a voice to these kids and teens and present it in an immersive format for our WOW audiences. WOW is all about thinking outside the box – and that’s pretty much the only way I think as an artist.
Wendy: Prior to this process, I had been combing through scripts for months, trying to find a piece that really spoke to the teen experience & the trauma that our students are dealing with on a daily basis in 2019. Every script that I looked at felt out of touch, full of profanity, and disconnected from this America that we’re in right now. So creating our own piece felt like the right thing to do. We’re really proud to be presenting an original creation in the WOW Festival!
This show is 20 minutes but runs for multiple shows a day during the festival- what is it like to craft a show with those kind of parameters?
Courtney: I really love it! In modern day theatre culture, we have gotten very used to two+ hour theatre experiences. Two acts, interupted by a 15 minute intermission. I like thinking on this different timeline. It forces us to drive the story.
Fittingly, since this is a theatre arts school, the last question is answered by one of their students. What would you hope audiences learn from PANDORA AND THE JAR OF HOPE?
Neeku N. (student): My hope for the audiences is that they leave with a feeling of hope left upon themselves, and if they are struggling they can know there is still hope left in the jar and they can always open the jar up and reach inside and get hope.
Looking for a preview? Check this out below!
PANDORA AND THE JAR OF HOPE by the Theatre Arts School of San Diego at the La Jolla Playhouse Without Walls Festival is playing until Sunday, October 20th. For show time information go to www.lajollaplayhouse.com
Photo Credit: Theatre Arts School of San Diego