Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Bricolage's Sweeping 'SAINTS TOUR' Turns Braddock Into One Big Stage

The innovative company's latest immersive theater project takes audiences on an uncanny journey through the small town.




PHOTO BY TAMI DIXON
 

Some forms of art are limited, and some are limitless.

If your aim is to write a book, you can only push boundaries so much; at some phase, some letters are going to have to appear on the page or a screen. Looking to record an album? At some point, you’re going to end up with 40 to 80 minutes of arranged sound.

But — as has been demonstrated, debated and dismissed by the unimaginative — the boundary between what is and is not visual art is virtually nonexistent. Anything created intentionally and artfully can be called a work of art.

Same goes for theater. As much as we think of live performance as “some people on a stage in a big room talking to each other for two hours,” the ascension of immersive theater — a charge led locally by Bricolage Production Company — proves there’s much more that can, and should, be done to create affecting live performances.

In “STRATA,” that meant an otherworldly, challenging journey of self-discovery; in one scene, you shared a broken-hearted moment with a mute dancer at a desolate senior prom. In “Ojo,” it meant a day lived in another’s skin; after surrendering your sight, you climbed into a rickshaw and were teleported to a noisy, fragrant market somewhere in the eastern hemisphere.

And in “SAINTS TOUR,” created by Bricolage with Real/Time Interventions, it means briefly stepping from the humdrum into an alternate, magical reality where good deeds transform neighbors into saints. As audiences walk, ramble and ride through Braddock, myths are woven and presented as historic fact; here, meaningful miracles are to be expected.

Practically, this time: Guests of “SAINTS TOUR,” written by playwright, artist and Point Park University professor Molly Rice, will arrive at a spot on Braddock Avenue and await the appearance of a “Tour Guide” (played by Bria Walker), who will walk them down the street and share stories of former residents (it’s not clear whether they’re real or imagined) and their local beatification. Most of the journey is taken via a school bus that transports the audience throughout the community as uncanny events occur through the windows; the most vibrant moments in “SAINTS TOUR,” however, occur when the group is instructed to leave the bus and await further miracles.

The experience concludes with a community meal — containing locally grown ingredients, via a recipe from chef Kevin Sousa — in a hidden alcove.

The trip is charming and often delightful. Aboard the bus, guests will begin scanning the neighborhood, more carefully analyzing everything in sight: Is that artifact just there or part of the show? Did I see a performer dancing in that field off in the distance? Are those waving neighbors actors or just waving neighbors? Where’s the next surprise coming from?

And plenty of individual moments — small actions imbued with meaning and impact — are genuinely moving. I won’t spoil any of them here; the essential thing to know is that every action should be treated like a sacrament, a tiny ritual of devotion.

That said: This is the first of Bricolage’s immersive works that left me wanting more. The experience of rolling through Braddock, searching for secrets and scenes, was exciting; to me, though, the payoffs didn’t quite live up to the promise of the setup. It’s very difficult to explain without revealing too much, but “SAINTS TOUR” operates by wringing the magical out of thin air — or dirt, more accurately — but given the freedom to invent, that magic was underwhelming.

Should “SAINTS TOUR” still be experienced, though? Absolutely. As the company does with every production, Bricolage pushes theater in an unexpected direction, leaving excitement and potential in their wake. And the essential lesson of “SAINTS TOUR” is clear and worthy: In even the most downtrodden places, there is life, history and potential.

“SAINTS TOUR” runs Wed-Sun through June 13. Tickets are $60 and available here.

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

The 400-Word Review: Pope Francis: A Man of His Word

The careful documentary is a valuable document of the pontiff's philosophy. As of a film, there are issues.

Popular Peter's Pub Announces Final “Last Call”

The owners of the Oakland Avenue bar announced on Facebook they have decided to retire -- but are planning one last “hoorah.”

An Inclusive Community Breaks the Ramadan Fast at Salem's Market & Grill

The Strip District restaurant draws a diverse community to its nightly ifṭār buffet.

Take a Tricky Trip To Mars at Escape Room 51

The new escape room in Pleasant Hills is a great game for newer players.

Looking for a Royal Wedding Watch Party in Pittsburgh?

With the ceremony just hours away, several watch parties and live screenings of the nuptials have already sold out. But we found a few more places in Pittsburgh still taking guests whose invitations got lost in the mail.

Surprising Pirates Proving to be an Acquired Taste This Season

For the time being, at least, fans continue to send owner Bob Nutting a message wrapped in apathy.

Sunrise, Sunset: Pittsburgh Playhouse's Second Act

The curtain is closing this month on the historical Pittsburgh Playhouse in Oakland, but it will rise again when Point Park University this fall unveils its new theater Downtown, a space with a history of its own.

A Matter of Pride: Delta Foundation's Struggles with Success

Within the span of 10 years, the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh has brought the city’s annual Pride festival to previously unimaginable heights. That growth, however, has left some members of the community behind — and unhappy.

Remembering Bruno Sammartino: “The Italian Superman”

The storied grappler captured the imagination — and the hearts — of generations of Pittsburghers.

Best Restaurants 2018

This year we recommend 40 establishments as our region's top restaurants.For the second year in a row, we categorize the restaurants in All-Arounders, Killer Casual, Fancy Night Out and Classic Pittsburgh to help you find whatever suits your mood.

Chef of the Year: Jamilka Borges

Jamilka Borges, executive chef of Independent Brewing Company and Hidden Harbor, raises the bar with her dedication to volunteerism as well as her culinary prowess.

Best Places to Introduce Children to the Performing Arts

When you see a show at one of these organizations, you may enjoy it as much as the children.

If You Jump, We Jump (At The Giant Bouncy House for Adults)

The world’s biggest bouncy house is coming to the Lawrence County Fair in New Castle.

The 400-Word Review: Deadpool 2

Can the sequel to the lightning-in-a-bottle superhero hit live up to its predecessor?

Get Creative: Pittsburgh Podcast Inspires 'Girl Bosses'

Thinking about starting a creative business but don't know where to start? From photography to interior design, Gamechangers, the new podcast from local textile designer Savannah Hayes, gives a behind-the-scenes look at the design industry from the female perspective.