The Odyssey Theatre continues its unique two evening festival of short plays performed completely in the dark ("DARK" and "MORE DARK") through December 16 as scheduled, combining the best of both evenings into a single performance ("BEYOND DARK – the 'Best of' Theatre in the Dark") for an additional 6 weeks, January 5 through February 9. With the audience and actors bathed in complete darkness, the imagination and senses are left to soar.
What happens in a totally dark theater, the audience intimately involved with actors playing in front of and around them and by constantly changing spatial and aural perspectives utilizing voice, music and sound-and always anticipating the ever present potential of the unexpected?
"This is a fascinating experiment for everyone involved," notes Odyssey Theatre artistic director Ron Sossi who oversees the production. "How do we create theater without our eyes, using only imagination? When I was a kid, I was enamored with radio; this production takes that idea and expands on it. With radio, we sit in the light while we listen. What will it be like to sit in the dark, together with the actors and 98 other audience members?"
Theatre in the Dark is an ambitious festival featuring twelve actors, seven directors and thirteen playwrights. The acting ensemble-Alan Abelew, Jack Axelrod, Marcia Battise, Denise Blasor, Ron Bottitta, Sheelagh Cullen, Jean Gilpin, Beth Hogan, Kristina Lloyd, Anna Nicholas, Cary Thompson and Terry Woodberry-have rehearsed extensively with a team of directors that includes Jeremy Aluma, Michael Arabian, David Bridel, Vesna Hocevar, Matthew McCray, Jamie Robledo and Ron Sossi. Each of the two 90-minute evenings will be made up of twelve-to-fifteen short pieces, including original, commissioned plays by Sheila Callaghan, Ernest Kearney, Lynn Manning, Anna Nicholas and Ron Sossi; selections, adapted for the dark, from previously published work by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Dorothy Fortenberry, Will Hackner, Edgar Allen Poe, Danny Robins and Dan Tetsell, William Shakespeare and Matei Viesnec; and new, ensemble-devised pieces developed as part of the rehearsal process.
"Part of this enormous undertaking has been the analysis of what kind of plays work well in the dark, and in what sequences they should be presented." Sossi explains. "Other issues have been logistical: devising ways for the actors to find their way around the stage with no light, and making sure that the audience will remain comfortable and safe with the theater in complete darkness."
Though utilizing completely different plays, the concept of presenting performances in a completely dark theater was pioneered by Battersea Arts Centre, which launched a wildly successful nine-week run as part of the 1998 London Fringe Festival.
Beyond Dark: The "Best of" Theatre in the Dark runs from January 5 through February 9th. Performances take place on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm. Tickets are $25-$30. The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025. For a complete performance schedule, call 310-477-2055 or go to www.OdysseyTheatre.com.
Photo Credit: Vesna Hocevar