If you want to sit passively in a theater and watch a play then InnerMission’s new production of “Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.” is not for you.
InnerMission describes itself as “driven to tell stories that grab you and shake your insides.” Revolt She Said Revolt Again does just that with its experimental, and inventive collection of vignettes.
“It’s very immersed,” actress Kirstiana Rosas said. “You’re not coming to see a show and this show to look through the window. This show happens around you. It doesn’t just happen on the stage. You are in it with us.”
Rosas and Carla Navarro are two of the actresses in the ensemble performing in the tiny, intimate space of Diversionary’s Black Box Theatre.
“One of the reasons this play was chosen was to incorporate that intimacy into the storytelling,” Navarro said.
In order to challenge the audience in a very direct and even at times uncomfortable manner with scenes that deal with rape, abuse, sexism, dysfunctional families, and more.
“So the intimacy of the space is playing for our purpose,” Navarro added.
“You’re not on the outside looking in; you’re in this with us. That’s what makes it so exciting because if you’re not up for it then we will find someone who’s ready,” Rosas said.
What audiences need to be ready for is a play that breaks rules to deliver a non-linear, multi-character narrative.
“It really focuses on the taboo topics that everybody is really afraid to speak about. The way that she does it, the playwright Alice Birch, with the text itself, it’s very blunt, it’s very unapologetic,” Rosas added. “It is the way that it is. It isn’t a matter of opinion, it’s just this is how a world is seen through these people’s eyes.”
Whether it is about a young girl who doesn’t want to be forced into marriage with a man who raped her or a daughter trying to come to terms with why her mother abandoned her as a child.
As an actress Rosas said that is “really exciting and really frightening at the same time because then you start to think about what your views on certain things are and what other people might view you and if their views differ at the end of the show when you are done, how will they look at you.”
Diversionary’s Black Box Theatre is such an intimate space that some audience members will find themselves on the stage and others will be confronted by actors who might be inches away. This is not the kind of theater for the faint of heart and that’s fine with InnerMission.
“The way that we speak, not only to each other but to the audience, we’re speaking to them because more than anything we really want them to start to open their minds and think for themselves and stop listening to what other people are telling them and just really take in everything that is happening and going on around them and analyzing and after that coming to their own conclusion as to what is going on. And then acting upon that,” Rosas said.
“We are telling a story of hey, this is what’s going on, this is what we are living through, this is what we are fighting for, and this is how it’s working or not working and this is how we are accepting it or not accepting it,” Navarro said.
Like a mom who clearly states that one of the things she will not bake is cupcakes, especially heart-shaped ones.
The play builds to a fever pitch as multiple stories and characters converge in a cacophony of voices.
“It’s kind of like we are fighting for attention of the audience,” Navarro added. “But we want our audience to feel that way, to feel, ‘Oh my god there are so many things going on, what do I listen to and why am I listening to this and not this?’ Our brain wants to cling on to things that we want to connect with.”
It’s a play that strips away protective layers to get to raw emotions and then once the actors, the characters, and the audience are vulnerable it empowers them to rebuild.
“I really appreciate plays that do that. That don’t focus upon one single narrative and one perspective. It’ a play that anyone and everyone can relate to which really draws me in,” Rosas said.
“I absolutely believe that this will create a conversation whether you like the play or you don’t like the play, whether you identify or don’t identify, this play is going to present so many topics and so many situations that everyone has an opinion on,” Navarro stated.
Rosas concluded: “What I want is for people to walk out of the performance and feel this newfound sense of urgency to want to act upon something whether it’s civil right or animal rights, all these different things that are going on in society right now, I just want them to actually, instead of just saying they want to do something to actually do it.”
That is the best kind of interactive theater.
“Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.” runs through Sept. 29 at Diversionary’s Black Box Theatre.