One of the most common reactions to SFR’s new theater column (the very one you’re reading) is not necessarily happiness or displeasure, but rather bewilderment. Most folks are peripherally aware that Santa Fe has a theater scene; a few of those people know that shows here are totally on fire; and a fraction of those people regularly attend productions. The remaining population, perhaps, doesn’t even realize Santa Fe’s theatrical options are so vast, and many people have never even seen a show here.
To counter this generalized absence, an organization called Theatre Santa Fe has planned the first-ever Theatre Walk in Santa Fe for Saturday Sept. 16: a walk-able collection of venues in the Siler Road/Rufina Street district (get onboard with calling it SiDi already) where more than a dozen companies present scenes, short productions and open classes for attendees to get a taste of what's happened, what's coming and what's possible on Santa Fe's stages. Even better: It's all free.
Janet Davidson, director and president of Theatre Santa Fe (an alliance of 17 theater companies in town), says the Theatre Walk came out of a desire to get everyone involved in a common goal. Theatre Santa Fe's website (theatresantafe.org) functions as a virtual meeting place with call boards, audition notices, a weekly e-mail newsletter of productions currently running (in 2017, there has been and will be at least one production up every single weekend) and a common calendar that companies can reference when planning their own events. That's all well and good, but Theatre Santa Fe wanted to create something that industry folk and audience members could physically attend.
When Theatre Santa Fe board members pitched the idea, they started asking around to see who was interested. "Then 13 companies said they wanted to do a show," Davidson says; she was pleasantly surprised with how many companies wanted to join in. "It became a logistic insanity—how do you do 13 companies, seven venues, between 3 and 6 pm, 10 minutes each [production], but they'd each take a half hour? … So that was how it was born."
So much involvement necessitated enlisting Duel Brewing and Cacao Santa Fe as unconventional venues. The variety of options is also a big draw; there are selections from shows that have already passed that you may have missed. New Mexico Actors Lab is reprising a scene from The Glass Menagerie, with a captivating Suzanne Lederer as Amanda and Geoffrey Pomeroy as her mysterious son Tom (web extra, May 19: "Family Matters"). You can get a look at what's in rehearsal, too, including Ironweed Productions' The Crucible, coming to stages in late October, as well as Teatro Paraguas' Sotto Voce, opening Sept. 28.
Making its New Mexico debut is Blue Raven Theatre, the company helmed by Talia Pura. Pura, who moved here from Winnipeg, Manitoba, a year and a half ago, quickly made herself a staple in the Santa Fe scene, both onstage and in the wings. Pura wrote and directed Collections, an excerpt from a full-length play, "the story of a couple in an antique shop. The husband has an obsession with collecting small antique objects, which his wife does not share," Pura tells SFR. From these kinds of original pieces to canonical shows elsewhere, there's something for everyone.
For some participatory levity, stop by the Adobe Rose Theatre, where audiences can either watch or participate in ongoing improv games. All of the day's shows are in the PG-rating area, but Meow Wolf can be your one-stop shop if you want something particularly kid-friendly.
Of Meow Wolf, Davidson says, Pandemonium Productions (which specializes in popular musicals for kids) and the Upstart Crows (the Shakespeare troupe for actors age 10 to 18) will hold down the fort both inside and outside. "That, combined with the food trucks that are already at Meow Wolf, makes it almost an event in and of itself," Davidson says. "You can take your kids to two different shows, and also go have lunch."
Once it became clear that it was going to be easy to drum up participation, sharing actors between productions and trimming scenes to fit into 10 minutes were the biggest puzzle pieces. "I have scheduled big movies that were easier than this," Davidson, who has a hefty background in film, admits. The additional legwork that Theatre Santa Fe has put in, however, is promising that the product will be exceptional.
(A note to those unfamiliar with going to plays here: Theater folk do not run on "Santa Fe Time." SFR has never attended a show that did not start promptly within 2-3 minutes of its scheduled curtain, so don't dawdle; they're running a tight ship.)
As time marches forward, Davidson is encouraged by the cooperation among Santa Fe's theater companies and hopes that talents, friendships, networks and—ultimately—productions themselves will only get better. The Theatre Walk is the perfect opportunity to see what Santa Fe can do; the price couldn't be better, and the variety of offerings is sure to appeal to a wide swath of Santa Feans—especially, and hopefully, those who have never set foot in a theater.
3-6 pm Saturday Sept. 16. Free.
visit theatresantafe.org for a full schedule