Following the success of Distance frequencies, The Rorschach Theater returns with a new immersive experience throughout the season, Chemical exile. In it, a scientist boards a plane from Amsterdam to Washington, DC. Back in a world she thought she knew, she discovers that nothing, and nowhere, is what she expects. From October 2021 to July 2022, Chemical exile takes participants to eight locations across the DC region as an intricate story unfolds about families, forgotten stories, and the uncharted frontiers of the mind.
Subtitle A psychogeography project, Rorschach’s visionary Chemical exile takes participants to unexpected places around their city as a fictional one-season tale unfolds over layers of history and magical realism. Guests receive a monthly mailbox that includes a new chapter in the story. Each box contains handcrafted items – letters, drawings, keepsakes, photos, or even snacks – and a map of a location in their city. The season ends with a live, in-person event that culminates the story.
Hundreds of spectators from the DC area joined last year for Distance frequencies, Rorschach’s first Psychogeographies project. Washington Magazine named him the best theater pivot of 2020. Describes The Washington Post: “Distance frequencies sends the public on monthly excursions to less-traveled sites in the Washington area, where the landscapes – along with the contents of organized mail-in packages – help conjure up a mysterious global history that takes place in part in these places. “
DC Metro Theater Arts critic Kendall Mostafavi praised the project: “The current Rorschach Theater production is… an adventure of the mind and, if you like, the body… The Rorschach Theater has landed the jackpot with this innovative art form, incorporating literature, music, mystery, romance, and DC highlights and history, all grounded in the hope of a better world.
The first chapter of Chemical exile: A psychogeography project releases October 24, 2021, but participants can register at any time and will receive any chapters they missed. Tickets for Chemical exile are $ 175 and are on sale now at rorschachthéâtre.
Security Considerations: Most of the locations will be outdoors and will avoid the crowds. Participants are expected to adhere to local and private corporate mask requirements, where applicable. Rorschach strongly recommends that all participants be vaccinated against COVID-19. Rorschach asks unvaccinated participants to participate in the experiment only from their homes. Proof of vaccination may be required to attend the final live show in the summer of 2022. Participants who prefer not to leave their homes at this time can access a video walking tour and will receive an adapted version of the instructions which can be performed from home. The final performance will be recorded and available to subscribers in fall 2022.
THE CREATIVE TEAM
Jonelle walker is a Helen Hayes Award-nominated playwright, director and scholar based in Houston, Texas. His previous work as a playwright includes Distance Frequencies (2020), TAME. (2016), Illyria, or What You Will (2018), The Theater of Self-Loathing Presents… (2015), and a variety of short play projects. Jonelle is a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland in Theater and Performance Studies; her thesis analyzes white femininity on stage, cinema and social media screens from 1865 to the present day. She is also co-host and producer of the RomCom Killjoys podcast.
Shayla roland is a theater producer, administrator and former stage manager. She was Associate Producer for the Penumbra Theater Company in Saint Paul, MN from 2017-2019 and Director of Special Programming at Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC from 2013 to 2016. In these roles, she worked alongside artistic teams in planning the season, casting, and organizing new audience engagement initiatives. As a Washington-based stage manager, she has worked for Ford’s Theater, Source Festival, Adventure Theater and Hangar Theater (NY). Shayla was a member of the Theater Communications Group (TCG) first Rising Leaders of Color cohort in 2016. Currently, Shayla works as a certified PMP project manager at a mental health association in Northern Virginia.
Kyle “Kylos” Brannon is an Assistant Professor in the School of Communication at American University and currently Acting Division Director for the Film & Media Arts program. For over a decade, Kylos has performed as a VJ or live video artist in clubs, creating live video mashups for DJs such as Moby, MSTRKRFT, Nadastrom, Jesse Tittsworth and Will Eastman. He has performed at the 930 Club, U Street Music Hall, Black Cat, Saturn Birmingham, Brooklyn Bowl and many more. As a company member with the Rorschach Theater, Kylos works as a video projection designer on 410 productions[gone], Reykjavik, Annie Jump & the Library of Heaven, She Kills Monsters, The Toxic Avenger: The Musical and Distance Frequencies from last year. He also worked as a lead designer for the Center for Environmental Filmmaking media report, as well as for the corresponding website. He has created live video installations and performances, including immersive experiences for Little Salon DC and Forgetting is Normal, a solo exhibition at the Anacostia Arts Center. He was co-director of the documentary An Impression: Dischord Records and co-producer of the Web Stage Fright series, for American University and NBC4. Each spring, Kylos produces and directs the Visions Awards, an annual student film awards ceremony held at American University.
Randy Boulanger is a playwright, director and co-artistic director of the Rorschach Theater in Washington DC. Recent shows he has directed include Very Still and Hard to See (five Helen Hayes nominations including Best Director) and She Kills Monsters with Rorschach, and Hello, My Name Is… with The Welders (three Helen Hayes nominations including best director) and a shadow puppet A Midsummer Night’s Dream inspired by gamelan at WSC Avant Bard. Recent plays he has written include world premieres of Forgotten Kingdoms and Truth & Beauty Bombs: A Softer World at the Rorschach Theater and workshops and educational productions from The Burning Road (Arena Stage), Monastery (Theater J) and Rashōmon. (American University and Scary Action Theater). The Legend of Hang Tuah will premiere at the Pointless Theater in 2022 (an adaptation of the Malaysian legend with shadow puppets and martial arts). Randy is an assistant professor at George Washington University and a professor at the Theater Lab School of the Dramatic Arts. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College and is the Washington DC Regional Representative for the Dramatists Guild of America.
Jenny McConnell Frederick is a director, producer and staunch supporter of impossible theater. She is co-artistic director of the Rorschach Theater which she founded in the summer of 1999 with Randy Baker. For Rorschach, she has directed more than a dozen shows, including Helen Hayes Nominated Voices Underwater and God of Vengeance, as well as the two sold-out series of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. In 2015, she designed and produced Truth & Beauty Bombs, an original work based on the Canadian webcomic “A Softer World”. She co-created Chambers of the Heart and MOVE !, two immersive dance / theater projects at the Word Dance Theater. She was artistic director of CulturalDC’s Source Festival and the Mead Theater Lab program. In this capacity, she oversaw the selection, development and production of over 200 works for the stage for nearly a decade. Work developed and produced by Jenny at the Source Festival includes several national world premieres from New Play Network Rolling, several Steinberg Award nominations from the American Theater Critics Association, and an Osborn Award winner. Jenny has directed for Theater J, Catholic University and the University of Maryland. She is currently a member of the Theater Washington Advisory Board and was a mentor-director for the Acting Conservatory at Theater Lab’s Honors and for the American College Theater Festival at the Kennedy Center and was a guest speaker at the CityWrights conference in Miami. She graduated with Distinction from Virginia Commonwealth University with a BFA in Theater and briefly joined Mensa for the free pencils. She lives in Takoma, DC with her husband and their long term collaboration, a son named Thane.
ABOUT THE RORSCHACH THEATER
Through unusual uses of the environment and passionate intimate performances, the Rorschach Theater seeks to draw its audience beyond the limits of ordinary theatrical experience so that they can discover new elements of their own humanity.
The Rorschach Theater tells stories that enable innovative design and visceral performances. The company treats productions as “installations” that surround the audience with the world of a play. Our work focuses on the intersection of magical or impossible moments and the everyday human experience. Without proselytizing, it provides a complex intellectual catalyst for self-exploration of difficult topics. Catalyzed by the circumstances of 2020, the company leveraged our unique strengths to create Psychogeographies, a groundbreaking project that combines history, fiction, magical realism and real-world excursions into a new kind of theatrical experience.
Rorschach is a vital launching pad for emerging artists. By trusting early-career actors, directors, playwrights and designers with significant artistic responsibilities, and surrounding them with established professionals and sufficient resources, the company has become an essential showcase for new talent. In addition to the regular season, Rorschach produces “Magic in Rough Spaces”, a new annual game development series; “Klecksography”, an annual new artist development event (for actors, local playwrights and directors); and “Fight Camp”, a combat training program held every summer. The company also hosts “Other People’s Ink: An Entertainment Curation Society,” which hosts a monthly urban adventure that explores artistic work in other genres similar to the aesthetic of the company. (“Klecksography” and “Other People’s Ink” are on hiatus for season 21-22.)
Rorschach has produced more than fifty plays seen by tens of thousands of people in the Washington area. The company has been nominated for over a dozen Helen Hayes Awards, won a Mary Goldwater Award, was a finalist for the Mayor’s Arts Award, and received numerous grants and awards from the Arts and Humanities Commission from DC. The company’s work has captured the attention of the New York Times, Washington Post, American Theater magazine, and National Public Radio, as well as countless local publications.
Rorschach’s enchanting “distance frequencies” end in beauty and love climaxing event review live by Kendall Mostafavi
Rorschach Theater hits jackpot with immersive ‘distance frequencies’ series review by Kendall Mostafavi