Live theater has returned to the Twin Cities in a new project that guarantees audiences needn’t venture any further out than their own front porch.
Nomad Theater Company presents “The Front Porch Plays,” a collection of monologues by playwright Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder, written to take place in the audience member’s yard while they watch from a front porch, front steps, garage, or backyard.
It’s totally live and totally socially distanced from the actors, who will troupe from home to home in Bloomington-Normal performing monologues inspired by the recent lockdown. This footloose production is right in line with the mission of site-specific Nomad Theater, said Cristen Monson, co-creator of the company.
“This is what we do! We have theater that moves around,” she said.
There are eight monologues in all, ranging in subject matter from a misdelivered Amazon package perhaps leading to love, to a woman’s midlife crisis blossoming into a shiny red sports car, to a deep family and culinary connection to a cast iron pan.
“They just all show how we are all starved for that connection," said Monson. "We miss being around people and we miss being around our loved ones. This speaks to all of those issues.”
Monson said the local acting community was chomping at the bit to get back into action.
“We had so many people itching to get out into the community and start acting! We’ve all been behind our screens since March,” she said. “We had so many actors interested in taking this on that we decided to do the eight monologues, times two. So, we have four teams going out across the community, each doing four of these monologues. It’s super exciting.”
The actors and directors are playing it safe, too, Monson revealed. Auditions for “The Front Porch Plays” were held via Zoom. Rehearsals also are done using Zoom, or the actors and directors meet--socially distanced--in the director’s yard.
“If you’re not performing, you have your mask on," she said. "The directors and everyone will be distanced apart. And they can give suggestions of, ‘Hey, when you’re doing this in front of the porch, remember to project.’ That way we can get some sort of simulation of what it might be like to stand in front of somebody’s house to perform these.
“Our actors are actually driving separately in their own cars, so there’s not any risk of transmitting anything.”
Don’t have a front porch but still want to schedule a performance? That’s not a problem, said Monson. Audiences can watch from the garage, a driveway or a back deck or patio.
“As theater performers do, we will have to adjust to all of our circumstances,” Monson explained. “Which makes it even more fun!”
Performances of “The Front Porch Plays” are free. In lieu of charging for tickets, Nomad Theater will accept donations for The Prairie Pride Coalition and the B-N Branch of the NAACP.
Nomad Theater Company’s production of “The Front Porch Plays” begins July 29 and runs through Aug. 2. Reservations can be made on Facebook.
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