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A weekly series focused on Bloomington-Normal's arts community and other major events. Made possible with support from PNC Financial Services.

It's all about O.P.P. (or Other People's Patios) with Nomad Theatre's Patio Plays

The Nomad Theatre troupe in scenes from The Patio Plays
Nomad Theatre
The Nomad Theatre troupe in scenes from The Patio Plays.

Nomad Theatre is theater that moves to site-specific locations for performances. And just in time for summer viewing, the Patio Plays are back and making their way around Bloomington-Normal.

Nomad’s debut version of traveling troupes providing entertainment in front and back yards arrived in 2020 with "The Front Porch Plays." At the height of the pandemic, when the world was locked down, Nomad produced a selection of themed monologues and with a reservation, a troupe arrived at a residence and performed outside — socially distanced for households.

Now a couple of years into the pandemic, the Patio Plays are back this season, and co-founder Cristen Monson said what’s different is, “we put a call out to local Bloomington-Normal playwrights to write either a short scene or monologue that could take place on a patio or outdoors somewhere.”

The result is a production of five scenes put together in an under-45-minute performance.

Directed by Illinois State University senior Alysa Chandler, stage-managed by Normal native Emily Kelly, and featuring two diverse acting troupes and musicians, the Patio Plays are family friendly. When asked if there was a theme with the selected pieces, Monson said, “It’s everything about how we are trying to make those connections … and that’s what our whole life is about making those connections with other people.”

Listen to the above interview for more details on the how the Patio Plays work and get a Nomad Theatre history. Find more details like available dates and times and reserve a slot by going to nomadtheatre.org.

Ariele Jones is WGLT's assistant program director and host of Morning Edition, Highway 309, and Center Stage.