Road Less Traveled Productions
By Jon Elston
Starring: Jake Hayes, Robyn Horn, Peter Horn, Lisa Vitrano
Tickets are $15, and more information can be found at roadlesstraveledproductions.org.
“Bigfoot is a response to the emergent conditions of our pandemic-driven, quarantined reality; completely unlike anything else you will see performed by Western New York theater artists this year, or perhaps ever; virtual, yet still live, dammit! Oh, also, it’s about Bigfoot.”
That’s playwright Jon Elston’s exciting pitch about his latest world premiere, a live project conceived and written specifically for Road Less Traveled Productions that will be performed live and streamed to YouTube. “Four performers will interact from three separate locations, and those locations are one element of what makes this show special and cool,” Elston previews the thirty-minute show. “The brain-trust at RLTP is developing projects that take advantage of a digital medium in clever ways and still fit the RLTP brand. We’ve crafted Bigfoot to function, to be performed live but enjoyed online. [It] wouldn’t really make sense to produce onstage. The action would be contained, and no audience member would likely be swayed into thinking that a dangerous animal could enter the theater and wreak havoc. So, instead, the audience for Bigfoot will get to glimpse some remote places, outside of the safe space of the stage. Things could easily get out of hand...”
Elston has spent decades researching crypto-hominids and is inspired by fictional narratives as well as experts like Dr. Jeff Meldrum, David Paulides, and the late Art Bell. “I watched The Legend of Boggy Creek and Creature From Black Lake when I was five or six years old,” Elston shares. “Boggy made a huge impression. It’s one of the earliest ‘fake’ horror documentaries, predating The Blair Witch Project by a quarter century, and claiming true encounters with Bigfoot in Fouke, Arkansas. I lived in Clarence, but the woods in those movies sure looked a lot like the woods behind my house. As I grew up, I remained fascinated with—and terrified of—the idea of giant fiends lurking in the shadows just beyond the edge of the backyard. As luck would have it, similar creatures have been sighted all over rural Western New York.”
From an artistic perspective, Elston is intrigued by the seeming impossibilities of the play. Previous works have depicted zombies, a detonated nuclear warhead, a glacier. “To one extent or another, we’ve translated them onstage,” he says. “Now, we’re traversing the four walls of our performance space and bringing something seemingly impossible to the internet, to your home, and to your imagination. I’ve been tapping into some of my old filmmaking skills while conceptualizing Bigfoot, and also discovering new tools for creating virtual theater. There seems to be a debate about whether virtual theater is legitimate or valid or even possible. I don’t mind telling you for the record: not only is it possible, but it will allow us to provide the audience with a live experience that they absolutely could not have in a theater!”
And if you’re reading this saying, “Psh, there’s no such thing as Bigfoot,” Elston asks that you instead consider the play’s allegorical dimensions as they relate to our current circumstance: “We’ve all been living under the specter of a real and imminent threat to our existence. Yet, while we seek to stay safe however we can, there are people out there trying to claim that the monster at our door isn’t even real or will just go away if we ignore it. That’s also the conflict in Bigfoot.”
Beginning the first of the month and through January 4, MusicalFare is using its social media platforms to keep you entertained every day. On Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, watch for throwback photos, 1-Minute Q&A videos with favorite MF performers, and informative videos from Artistic/Executive Director Randy Kramer.
Live! From the Kav! Let Chi Entertain You, a hilarious song-and-comedy cabaret starting Charmagne Chi, accompanied by Joe Donohue. A small socially distanced audience will provide laughs you can hear! Call 829-7668 for streaming tickets.