Ignite, a virtual theatre experience, opened online this past Sunday, Oct. 11.
The show comes from The Strides Collective, a group of young actors and technical crew members who have dedicated themselves to providing diverse and meaningful performances, despite the continuing pandemic. Ignite utilizes a series of audio and video recordings to tell a unique story, all accessible from your living room couch.
The online experience places you behind the screen an investigator into the library fire of a small Rhode Island college. You are provided with a website containing recordings of the phone and video calls from ten key students who are suspected of starting the fire, as well as a few audio recordings of conversations between these students.
These recordings are separated by students involved, but you are encouraged to navigate the site independently, viewing the material in whatever order you choose. It’s your investigation, after all. As you click through the files, you learn more and more about the relationships between these students, following them through their highs and lows, trying to connect them all back to the library fire incident.
As you continue through the various recordings looking for information about the night of the fire, you unearth information about school-wide scandals and tensions between students. However, the performance isn’t all drama and scandal, touching on more serious topics such as living as a gender nonbinary person on a small college campus or participating in Greek life as a person of color. The cast is diverse and inclusive, highlighting the stories of those not always seen in mainstream media or large theatre productions.
The performances were all quite realistic, even nailing down the awkwardness of sitting on a silent video call before anyone else arrives. Although you can’t always see each actor’s face during the recorded phone calls, you can hear the motivation and intention behind each character’s voice. The more you watch and listen, the more invested you will likely become in the struggles of each student, hoping that each small detail they provide will bring you closer to finding the library fire culprit.
The technical side of this production was also well-done, and audio itself was incredibly detailed, with background noise in each phone call hinting at the intended location. The website in which each recording was situated was simple but effective, and it is easy to quickly click from student to student, checking the dates and times that each call was made.
The performance is estimated by The Strides Collective to take approximately 120 minutes to complete. But if you wish to watch every video and listen to every single audio recording, this time is closer to 180 minutes.
This show will run until Oct. 25. Tickets are free and can be reserved at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4730042. All performances are completely online and must be attended at the time on your reserved ticket.
If you enjoy listening to mystery podcasts or watching investigative dramas, then this is the show for you. Even if you aren’t a fan of mystery, you should still give the experience a try, as it is a unique take on the traditional performance medium that features themes of suspicion, honesty and friendship.