The Los Angeles-based, alumni-founded Chalk Repertory Theatre prides itself on performing plays exclusively in unconventional spaces—bars, cafés, museums, even cemeteries. This weekend, San Diego residents have the good fortune that Chalk Rep’s newest project, “In Case of Emergency,” will be performed at the Without Walls Festival, a site-specific theatre bonanza put on by the La Jolla Playhouse.
Chalk’s venue this time? The garage of a private home.
Such an offbeat setting for the performance enhances a connection between player and viewer that might otherwise be strained under big lights and an elevated platform. “The audience is a partner with you in your performance, whether they speak or not,” says one of Chalk’s founding members, Amy Ellenberger, M.F.A. ’07. “Some of our shows are somewhat interactive, but even if they aren’t, [the audience] is an active participant in it. And I love having that feeling because you know immediately when something is working and when it’s not. When you’re on a proscenium under a light, because of that distance, you can’t feel it as much.”
Along with Ellenberger, four other graduates of UC San Diego’s MFA program in theatre—Jennifer Chang, ’06, Larissa Kokernot, ’05, Ruth McKee ’06, and Hilary Ward, ’07—formed Chalk Rep in 2008 with the core ideal of pushing the boundaries of expression within live theatre. The sentiment aligns perfectly with the mission of the Without Walls Festival, a three-day event featuring site-specific theatre that subverts the confines of the usual performance space.
“It’s a homecoming for us. It’s awesome,” Ellenberger says. “We have such a great community there that we’re connected to. It’s such a massive thing for us to go and be a part of this festival and reconnect with the Playhouse and UCSD and to share our work with the people who kind of gave us the support to continue our artistic journey.”
Without Walls Festival performances of “In Case of Emergency” take place Friday, October 09 at 7:00 pm; Saturday, October 10 at 2:00 pm & 7:00 pm; and Sunday, October 11 at 1:00 pm & 5:00 pm. Visit the festival website for tickets and more information.