Remember field trips in school? Where they’d bus you out to some fun location for the day and you’d learn about something different or maybe tour a place rich in unique history? I don’t either; usually they took us to Kennywood. But Bricolage Productions has partnered with new companyReal/Time Interventions to relive that experience with Saints Tour, an interactive bus tour/theater piece that takes its audience through the streets (and history) of Braddock.
Our interactive tour starts on Braddock Avenue, where we all sign in and eventually our enthusiastic and spiritual Tour Guide (Bria Walker) comes and ushers us away. The tour goes down the street and eventually onto a school bus that takes us through Braddock, North Braddock, and Monongahela Cemetery. Signs, objects, and people are placed on the houses and other locations, all happily explained to us by the Tour Guide. At many points we exited the bus to do small activities or learn more about some old Braddock legends.
I’ll be honest: this wasn’t for me. Now that’s not a criticism on the production team. All the cues, to my eyes, were executed without a hitch. Ms. Walker never broke character once and her speeches on the bus were really captivating. But there’s definitely a “spiritual journey” element to this piece and if you’re perhaps a bit too cynical you may not go for it as much. Now don’t misunderstand me, I was the best audience member I could be. I never talked while the Tour Guide was speaking (although others did) and I could appreciate the messages that were being made.
Because unlike traditional theater, interactive theater relies a lot on audience participation. Their participation will vary depending on their morale, and by the end of our tour I think a few people were ready to get off the bus for good. The weather certainly didn’t help in that regard (this freakin’ cold front, huh?) and I think my passengers would have been a bit less grumpy had the sun been out. Even I found myself thinking “Please talk faster, it’s chilly out here.” But obviously, the weather isn’t the production’s fault.
So if you’re a cynic, and a hard cynic with a closed mind, I’d say this wouldn’t be for you. How do you know if you’re a cynic? Example: While being told about the magical and spiritual history of North Braddock you think to yourself “Hey, didn’t they find a body in a trunk here about a week ago?”. That’s a cynic. At one point in our travels we collected a bucket of dirt that and 10 minutes later we were asked (repeatedly) if we were willing to part with it and we all but said “yeah, sure, it’s dirt.”
So…I would say the Saints Tour is for spiritual people who can appreciate a good story. The tour is definitely theater but presented in the style of a real lesson, and at times asks the audience to feel things they simply may not be feeling. But, Bricolage and Real/Time have done a good job putting it all together and if any of the history is left unclear to you, it is spelled out in a newspaper-styled program you receive at a small reception after the tour. So if you’re in the mood for something different and you meet the criteria I listed above (or if you think I’m full of it and don’t know what I’m talking about; that’s fair) go check out the Saints Tour. Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring an umbrella if you need to.
Special thanks to Bricolage and Real/Time for complimentary press tickets. Saints Tour runs through June 13. Tickets and more information can be found here.
Performance Date: Thursday, May 21, 2015