Over the River and Through the Woods: Family Forest Immerses Audiences in the Story of the Self
Call it party-meets-play-meets-living-breathing-interactive-art-installation. Family Forest: An Immersive Experience explored the realm of family, memory, and history through a multi-sensory theatrical event. Directed by Negin Singh and Sean Lewellyn, Family Forest featured the work of 11 multi-media artists as they together explored the familial legends and lore that drive us.
Mimicking the uncovering of secret histories, the audience was treated to an hour-long pre-show in the form of an interactive stage experience. Guests were encouraged to rummage through drawers, assemble pictures in fantasy family trees, wander through the realms of scent and touch as they navigated the moss-covered forest set, and even listen to ensemble members' own stories about their own family.The party atmosphere was provided courtesy of custom cocktails by WHIM BAR. At the end of its 4-week run, the show also closed out cARTel’s very last performance in the Hayworth, their theater home for 3 years.
As for the show itself, opening with a narrator guiding us through an oversized storybook, the ensemble traveled through a collection of inherited stories. From a film strip-inspired voiceover accompanying the peeling away of layers of multicultural costume, to the endearingly awkward wedding night of two virginal Indian newlyweds, to a heartfelt monologue of love and loss through the eyes of the Shah’s first wife, audiences were taken on a journey spanning decades and cultural borders.
Below, you can hear some of the stories told by our cast and crew about their own family. The audio track below played in headphones on stage before the performance.