The 2023 Edition of La Jolla Playhouse's WoW Festival

Brought Another Year of Performances and Unique Experiences for All at the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park.

WoW Festival. Photo Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

The WoW Festival brought another year of performances and unique experiences for all at the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park. Everything next to the water made it more special and the variety this year was free admission. I caught the opening day with a massive yoga class from Fit Athletic and a dance party with King Britt and friends. I had never seen so many people doing yoga at the same time, that definitely was impressive. The dance party with King Britt was fun and the mixes were cool to dance to. 

On Sunday I trekked again and caught the play Drive presented by Diversionary Theatre and based on Broadway veteran, Sharon Wheatley’s (Come From Away) book Drive: Stories from Somewhere in the Middle of Nowhere chronicling Wheatley's new life after the Broadway shutdown during the pandemic in 2020 and her cross-country trip in an RV with her wife Martha (Astrid Van Wieren). The piece in the outdoors had lawn chairs across the RV and the actresses took us through the journey with laughs and reflections to end it off perfectly by having audience members make their own s'mores around the grill and a tour inside the RV with pictures and how it was set up for the trip. The experience felt very homey and neighborly.

TuYo Theatre's Cuatro Milpas. Photo AED

I then walked over to TuYo Theatre's Las Cuatro Milpas maze where through headphones and video projecting on Ipads or with your phone and a QR code, the gods would gift audience members with historic facts about the origin of corn, stolen crops, and the famous and oldest Barrio Logan eatery Las Cuatro Milpas founded by couple Petra and Natividad in 1933. The materials were available in both English and Spanish offering animation, puppetry, breaking news format, and audio podcast style. At the end of the maze, two gods bid farewell and gift a flour tortilla. One of the many things 'Milpas is famous for. 

This was a very creative and engaging piece. However, as a bilingual person living on the border, I have to add my two cent -peeves- meaning that if you are going to speak Spanish, please aim to have a native Spanish speaker proof and or correct the pronunciation. In one of the videos, it said "época pre-colombiana" meaning "pre-Colombian era" instead of pre-COLUMBUS era or "época pre-Colombina". Details make the difference and paying attention to them does too.

Will Blenkin and Samuel Rhyner. Photo AED

Lastly, I went to the basketball court for 360 an outdoor acrobatic and interactive piece directed by Benjamin Kuitenbrouwer and Hanneke Meijers, performed by Will Blenkin and Samuel Rhyner. It starts with people gathering around Blenkin and Rhyner who are sharing an orange jumpsuit. One has the pants and the other the jacket. They then start rolling out stools and seeing the reaction of the audience definitely integrates as part of the show. First people are shy and do not know whether to grab a stool or not, sit on it or just hold it, sit close or far. The artists start doing flips that challenge personal space and it was fascinating to watch. It is silent interaction but very powerful. It was pretty chilly that day I would've loved to see the interaction on a warm sunny day.

I was also going to catch THE END but it was cancelled due to the bus malfunctioning :(.

The WoW Festival came and went for another year and it would seem that it went by faster than the 2022 edition... (maybe it is just me). I feel that the Shell was not as convenient, accessible, or comfortable as Liberty Station was but the experiences made up for it. Cannot wait to see what La Lucha brings.

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