Shenanigans Pop-Up Theater Troupe will present its first show on Saturday night. Unlike theater troupes that often perform on traditional stages, Shenanigans creates theater in found spaces. The troupe’s first show, The Velvet Sky by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, will utilize the Fugue art exhibit in Kepner Hall in place of a regular stage.
Megan Dille, the president and co-founder of Shenanigans, says removing a show from a standard performance setting greatly impacts the way the audience experiences it.
“I really like found spaces because they change the audience’s frame of mind around the show that they’re watching,” Dille said. “The audience in a found space has to participate in whatever location they’re put in and often that’s a different role for every show. So you can tailor the audiences’ role in a show to be whatever you want – to make a different impact with the same story you could have done a hundred times.”
The troupe, which formed in July, was partially influenced to focus on found space theater because of Dille’s love for the immersive world of the Colorado Renaissance Festival. The festival features employees and guests alike dressed as mythical creatures, kings, queens, peasants and more. While these costumes and characters are not necessarily performative, the immersive experience of the festival resonated with Dille. According to her, learning about found space theater bridged the gap between her love for the festival and theater.
Though most people only serve in one role for a show, Dille has branched out, acting as producer, assistant director, costume designer, lighting designer and producer for The Velvet Sky. While serving in all of these roles, she has become aware of the entirely different set of challenges a found space theater has. Producing a show in a theater space with a controlled environment, lighting and sound is already difficult and expensive, and moving into a space without many technical capabilities only heightens those problems. Found spaces also run a risk of distraction from people being able to walk through the space, especially in a busy building like Kepner Hall.
Though The Velvet Sky calls for the use of certain technical elements, the absurdist nature of the show has allowed the creative team to bend the rules of conventional theater to make their show work.
The show, directed by Clove Love, tells the story of a mother, Bethany Palmer, who has not slept for almost 13 years since the birth of her son in order to protect him from a supernatural being known as the Sandman. Her husband can no longer take her madness and takes his son to New York City, right before he turns 13. The story continues as Bethany loses her grip on reality in this absurd horror comedy.
The Velvet Sky will perform at 6:00 pm Saturday and 2:30 pm Sunday at the Fugue art exhibit in Kepner Hall. The show is a one act, and runs about 60 minutes. The creative teams request that all attendees wear masks to ensure the safety of the actors.
After the conclusion of the show, Dille says she believes the troupe will be in a good spot to produce more events and get more people involved in the coming years. Future events may include an unconfirmed 24-hour found space play challenge..
For more information about Shenanigans Pop-Up Theater Troupe or The Velvet Sky, visit the troupe’s Instagram: @ShenanigansUNCO