The less you know about A league apartthe best.
While this may sound like the start of a negative review or an invitation to stop reading, it’s not. The lack of public awareness is at the heart of how the play works. And even that simple statement could be close to divulging too much information.
“We deliberately don’t talk about the plot,” says Allison Price, the play’s director and co-writer of the play with Abby Ferree and Jonah Fujikawa. The trio brings the show to Spokane for a run of six performances.
“We want the audience to come in and be as surprised and as caught off guard as the character is about what’s going on in her life,” Price said.
To that end, the play’s tagline is a simple rhetorical question: “What would you do for a good night’s rest?” The press kit prioritizes rave reviews from audiences and critics at plot points. Performances even take place in private homes, with viewers often having to venture into backyards or vacant lots to find the entrance.
“When we first staged it in Austin,” says Fujikawa in Texas, “the audience had to walk through the neighborhood. It was 90 degrees. There were police sirens, dogs barking. They had to walk through all this grass, and some of them they were like, ‘Am I allowed to be here? I don’t feel like I’m supposed to be here.'”
“That’s exactly how the character feels,” adds Price. “She, too, had to go through new environments, questionable environments to find a safe haven. That means the audience is going through that exact journey, too.”
“From a marketing and artistic perspective, we want to make sure it’s that immersive experience,” says Fujikawa.
But he also makes it clear that there’s more to audience involvement than that. There is a strong advocacy angle for A league apart it relies on the audience’s ability to fully understand the main character’s terror and uncertainty.
“Under the law in many states, there are more protections for the perpetrators of certain crimes than for the victims. And those victims don’t get a warning. So what we’re really trying to do is is to put the public in the same situation that these victims find themselves in, to really put them in their place,” says Price.
She deliberately avoids mentioning specific crimes or specific victims, as these details are inevitably tainted with preconceived ideas.
Price first got the idea for A league apart a little over a year ago. She emerged from a single image that had formed in her mind: “A woman sitting in a chair with a shotgun, waiting for someone to come,” in Fujikawa’s words, and the scene was loosely rooted in the experience of his two relatives. members.
After co-developing the script with Ferree and Fujikawa, they researched available locations — places like basements, garages, and back porches — around their hometown of Austin. Then came the task of promoting a play they could barely describe for fear of giving away too many spoilers.
The public came, however. They braved strange neighborhoods and strange places and took their place among the very small groups allowed at each performance. A trio of women showed up with wine, thinking they were ready to unwind at an exclusive preview at the theater. At the end of the performance, the bottle was still full.
“From the overall experience, everyone said it was probably one of the most thrilling and thrilling experiences they’ve had in a very long time,” Price said. “Audience members would stick around for a really long time after the show was over to ask us questions and say, ‘I can’t believe this is real. Why isn’t anyone talking about this?’
On a memorable night when it first aired, the show had only three contestants. Two were well-known theater critics. After the show, the three spectators quietly and unceremoniously left.
“About five minutes later, we’re knocking, cleaning up,” Fujikawa recalled, “and one of the guys goes back to the backyard. He said, ‘Who ran that? And we thought, ‘Oh, no, he’s crazy. He’s going to yell at us.'”
“I walked over and said, ‘That’s me. Hello,'” Price said. “And then he grabbed my hand and said, ‘That was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. Is it real? Do things like this happen? “”
“We were like, ‘Yeah,'” Fujikawa says. “And he said, ‘I’m going to go home and hug my wife and kids. It was so important to us. That’s exactly the kind of response we were trying to get.
Price and Fujikawa are hoping for similar reactions when they bring A league apart in Spokane at the end of November in partnership with the Spokane Playwrights Laboratory. A local actor, Skyler Moeder, will play the lead (and only) role in the play, and a local theater advocate will supply the basement venue.
“One of the big motivations for bringing this to Spokane is to foster a diverse arts scene,” Price said. As a born-and-raised Spokanite herself, she wants to see more “site-specific independent theater” and offer different roles to actors in the area. “We really try to give back to the community in terms of experiences, opportunities and collaboration.”
A league apart comes with a pre-show content warning and is unlikely to be suitable for those under 18. It also has a cap of 10 seats per performance. But rather than these limiting factors, Price says they serve to emphasize the piece’s message and reinforce its impact.
“It’s so different from a big show where you can hide in the back,” she says. “There’s no hiding here. Every show is for you. It’s so personal.” ♦
A league apart • 26 Nov.-Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m.; Sat-Sun 8 and 11 p.m., Thu 8 p.m., Fri 11 p.m. • $20 • Private Residence • 2603 W. Glass Ave. • LOHO2022.eventbrite.com