Oh, WOW! Coming to the Arts District in Point Loma’s Liberty Station, Thursday-Sunday, Oct. 17-20, is something you won’t want to miss — a four-day array of unusual indoor and outdoor performances called the WithOut Walls (WOW) Festival.
The WOW Festival is the brainchild of La Jolla Playhouse, which inaugurated the biennial event in 2011 to bring theater beyond the confines of its on-campus buildings and out into the world. And 361-acre Liberty Station — with its welcoming garden paths, restaurants and thriving Arts District — is definitely a world worth exploring, well on its way to becoming “San Diego’s Town Square.”
Among the almost two dozen pieces by local and international artists is “Ikaros,” a world premiere by New York City-based Third Rail Projects, acclaimed for their immersive, site-specific performances. This one is a walking tour infused with myth, history, poetry and film that combines the ill-fated flights of Icarus and Amelia Earhart with what co-artistic director Tom Pearson calls “the tension between sea and sky” at Liberty Station.
Then there’s “Las Quinceañeras,” a dream-like journey into the rites of passage undertaken by 15-year-old Latinas. Conceived by Arts District resident artist David Israel Reynoso, it will lead participants into mysterious, multisensory experiences where the paranormal is normal.
And then there’s “Peregrinus,” a free performance by Teatr KTO, a group that creates outdoor spectacles in Krakow, Poland, and tours them around the world, engaging audiences in shopping centers and other public spaces. This one includes surreal headpieces, music and movement, inviting viewers to roam along with the performers.
Malashock Dance, the first company to move into the Arts District in 2006, will be turning the top floor of the Dorothea Laub Dance Place building into a traveling circus, complete with sideshows. Their high-energy production “Without a Net” will feature aerial acrobatics, a “clowntortionist” and an interactive projection screen, so audience members themselves can join the circus. And oh yes ... there’ll be choreographed dancing, too.
As a special treat for beer-lovers, the Backyard Renaissance Theatre Company, which promises “real serious play and real serious fun” and is currently theater-in-residence at La Jolla Playhouse, will perform “Written in Stone,” a series of five original 10-minute plays set in hidden corners of Stone Brewing’s Bistro & Gardens.
Many of the performances will be family-friendly, like “Boats,” by Australia’s Polyglot Theatre, whose motto is “Theatre is child’s play.” They’ll give kids a chance to crew their own ocean voyage on dry land, sharing adventures with the performers until they reach safe harbor. Another boat-related Aussie delight will be “Tall Tales of the High Seas,” by Melbourne-based Strange Fruit, a sailing story played out sky-high on 16-foot sway-poles.
Older kids can choose their own adventure in “Hall Pass,” a series of short plays and musicals staged at High Tech High School. Presented by San Diego’s Blindspot Collective, which develops performances with local communities and is this season’s theater-in-residence at San Diego Airport, “Hall Pass” gives anyone, who is or has ever been a teen, a chance to “experience the trials and triumphs of the Class of 2022.”
The Festival Stage will also feature free concerts, ranging from the Montalban Quintet to Brogue Wave, Whitney Shay & The Hustle, and excerpts from a spoken-and-sung piece, “The Golem of La Jolla.”
All this is just the tip of the WOW-berg. Event prices range from free to $20, and there are dining and rest-and-relaxation options all around. For the full schedule and tickets see lajollaplayhouse.org/wowfestival2019 or call (858) 550-1010.