Immersive, open-air events like ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ might be the future of the arts in Orlando | Arts Stories & Interviews | Orlando

Throughout the pandemic 12 months that was 2020, Orlando arts movers Innovative Town Job lived up to their moniker far more than probably at any time prior to. Already well-versed in staging happenings and performances in general public spaces and unconventional locales — as writ large with their annual Immerse takeovers of downtown Orlando — Imaginative City staged 3 gatherings, each and every successively even bigger than the very last, that all pointed the way forward for dwell artwork in this at any time-lengthening uncertain second.

The Re:Cost collaboration with Timucua Arts, the Vibrant Youthful Factors theatrical going for walks tour by way of downtown Orlando, and lastly the holiday break phantasmagoria Stunning Evenings that reworked Leu Gardens ended up all breaths of new air — creatively adventurous but with audience and performer protection firmly centered.

Now, next closely on the heels of Stunning Nights, arrives Down the Rabbit Gap, which sees Mead Botanical Yard transformed into an immersive and thoroughly modern-day reimagining of Alice in Wonderland as a madcap strolling tour exactly where attendees encounter the legendary characters scattered throughout the foliage. Investing a freewheeling and fantastical afternoon or evening outside in the bucolic environs of Mead Back garden surrounded by eccentric performers and flora and fauna in total bloom seems like a high-quality, great (and not panic-inducing) way to expend a spring working day in Florida to us.

The exhibit, dreamed up by Creative City head Cole NeSmith and Present day Theatricals’ Donald Spencer, opened in early February and tickets for the total run sold out in a couple of times. Thankfully for people of us who missed out, Down the Rabbit Gap has been prolonged through March 25. Orlando Weekly spoke with NeSmith on the mobile phone the morning he bought the news about the extension, and as you could think about, spirits ended up superior.

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Could you describe the Down the Rabbit Gap encounter?

Audience teams of 15 journey by means of Mead Yard as Alice leads them together the path. They’re going to face about a dozen scenes with diverse people, and in our casting we experimented with to do an interesting, eclectic blend of inventive kinds — so the White Rabbit is a stilt-walker, and the Cheshire Cat is a Lyra performer, Tweedledee and Tweedledum are a comedy duo, and you will find a rose character who performs a music are living. Our Mad Hatter’s a tap dancer. So we’ve experimented with to put jointly a whole lot of eclectic forms of artwork alongside the way.

How did it appear with each other so rapidly immediately after Stunning Nights?

We began preparing for this in August of final year, understanding that we were not going to be capable to do Immerse in October. We requested ourselves what type of articles could we start off developing — and we experienced now been doing work on Vivid Young Items. We wished to acquire that strategy and expand upon it and make a little something that was extra conducive for family members, but would still be definitely exciting for grown ups.

I had achieved Donald Spencer, who is the director of this clearly show and wrote the script and did the casting, past year. He has a business termed Fashionable Theatricals and they’ve completed some initial exhibits at the Dr. Phillips Center in the Pugh Theater. When I observed photos of his operate I was truly amazed with the costumes. He certainly brought that A-activity to the costumes for Down the Rabbit Hole. I knew it’d be a great option to partner with each other due to the fact he is this kind of a terrific master at the visuals of the show and I understood that’d be critical for Down the Rabbit Gap.

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  • Picture by Mike Dunn
  • The Mad Hatter

You’ve switched destinations from Leu Gardens to Mead Garden — what was it that attracted you to Mead?

Leu Gardens is wonderful for some thing like Dazzling Evenings due to the fact … we ended up obtaining about 37,000 company go by Dazzling Nights and most of that is paved. There is certainly going for walks paths and points like that that are all truly conducive for getting that quite a few folks through a thing. Mead Backyard is fairly distinct from Leu Gardens in that it truly is a minimal little bit additional rustic. It has far more winding paths and slim walkways and extra trees and it seriously does truly feel like a forest. And which is a thing that we wished for this show.

What information have you taken from undertaking Stunning Nights and Vivid Younger Points, and then set toward this?

Just one of the matters I really appreciate about carrying out this party at Mead Back garden that is different from Brilliant Young Things is that Mead is a little bit much more of an distinctive surroundings. Undertaking Shiny Younger Issues in the middle of downtown Orlando on a Saturday night time, even in October, there ended up just countless numbers of men and women and tons of loud tunes. Bikes each individual 45 seconds. And so there ended up just a lot of problems with that.

However that points to the even bigger strategy of programming just about anything exterior, which is that there are generally unexpected items that materialize, and rather than fighting those people items, we are embracing the reality that unanticipated things are heading to come about, and we’re not going to fight, but embrace them, and just carry on to go by individuals moments. It is just continuing to discover about the worries of making something in an uncontrollable natural environment and how to perform with the setting as opposed to towards it.

Have you been impressed by other locals executing other varieties of outside activities, immersive theater, music?

I consider it is been seriously fantastic to see individuals carrying out that. Crystal Edwards, who is our programming director for Immerse, is section of a dance company that did a pretty neat travel-all around-town dance functionality in the slide. And then it was great to see buddies do their outdoor Christmas Carol at Loch Haven Park.

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The Duchess - PHOTO BY MIKE DUNN

  • Image by Mike Dunn
  • The Duchess

Even Orlando Philharmonic [is] executing concerts exterior. This is a pretty regular business, carrying out some thing outdoors of their normal and classic efficiency location. … It is really just amazing to see how our arts businesses are shifting what they do to proceed to provide attention-grabbing and important arts for our local community, and in a lot of methods that’s variety of exposing us all to brand name-new audiences.

What form of health and fitness and security measures are in place?

All of the things that we have created in this earlier 12 months has been — very well, October by way of April — all outside stuff. That’s been a person of the things that has been seriously beneficial for us. And then we’ve continuously monitored how our audiences are moving via just about every of all those encounters. We started out with Dazzling Nights at a reduce amount than we ended for the reason that we recognized we could insert a few team associates and retain individuals going in the suitable direction.

We’re frequently searching at how we are maintaining our audiences distanced and secure from one particular one more from a capability standpoint. All of our timed ticket entries for these occasions have been truly handy. And all of our attendees wear masks though they are accomplishing the experience.

Do your performers or workforce users ever get any hostility in imposing or reminding men and women about these steps?

You know, one particular of the points that I have seen is that men and women are just so prepared to encounter something exciting and meaningful that we haven’t truly had any issues of needing to implement, mainly because folks are respectful, and I am grateful for that. The folks who are coming to our functions are respectful of the points that we have asked them to do. And we make that abundantly very clear in advance of they even get there.

So in advance of they obtain a ticket, they see that there is certainly a mask necessity. When they get their confirmation email messages and comply with-up emails that things is reinforced. By the time they get there, it really is not a surprise to anyone.

Do you assume this will be a very long-term craze wherever audiences are a lot more receptive to seeing art and music and theater in unconventional spaces?

I feel audiences by now have an urge for food for that, regardless of no matter whether or not they know it.

One particular of the strategies that we have linked with so numerous people is due to the fact we are creating information and making material in approaches that are distinctive and I feel audiences are definitely drawn to that. I, as an viewers member, am drawn to that. I enjoy likely to matters that are in distinctive spaces or going to performances that are not staged in a regular way. So when it comes to creating, that is one thing that I assume a ton about and get energized about in the creative process.

Has presenting Brilliant Young Things, Dazzling Evenings and Down the Rabbit Gap possibly built you additional of an outside person?

Which is an appealing problem for the reason that for me, I imagine this has been a mastering system of releasing my stress over making information exterior, simply because I adore currently being capable to management the ecosystem as a lot as feasible. I’ve had to study to release that sense of regulate, so I assume that is one particular of the issues that I have kind of grown into over this course of action.

It is really been astounding to go into spaces like Leu Gardens and Mead Garden, that are stunning in and of by themselves, and then illuminate individuals areas with light-weight in a way that brings new everyday living to those people areas and assists link people today to them, in virtually wondrous strategies. I think that’s a single of the issues that I have definitely loved about the very last yr of programming.