Amidst a backdrop of misty growth and within the circumference of the Ward Lake Trail, 15 avant-garde trailblazers performed monologues, sketches, narratives, songs and dances for six tour groups on Saturday during the First City Players’ inaugural Ward Lake Theatre Walk.
The tour groups — each of about 12 members from separate tight-knit social circles — had six different time slots to choose from. Each slot was separated by 15-minute intervals, with the first group setting foot on the trail at 5:30 P.M.
Seven stations were mapped out around the lake, and each station hosted either a solo or duet performance that was researched and prepared to align with the Ward Lake environment.
The first performance was at Grassy Point. From there, each group followed the trail clockwise around the lake stopping at each equally spaced station until they caught the final performance just feet from where the trail spits out onto the other side of the beach from where they started.
FCP Marketing and Outreach Director Amanda Glanzer said the theater plans to replay the event again at some point, but most likely following the 2020 season.
“I’m not too sure if it will happen again in the spring or the summer, but it will definitely happen again,” Glanzer said. “There was enough interest, enough enjoyment and enough accolades that we will definitely do it again.”
Saturday’s weather followed suit with the saturated summer and produced consistent downpours during the event. Spectators utilized umbrellas and rain slickers to shield some of the moisture. Most of the performance locations were under the canopy of hemlocks, which molded thousands of tiny raindrops into heavier droplets and, under a choreography of its own, created a pitter-patter beat.
Glanzer said that the weather may have contributed to some of the cancellations, but because the event sold out within the first week of sales, a waiting list was created and the event remained fully booked.
“The biggest challenge that came with the rain is because it was so cloudy that it got darker faster than we anticipated, but we said we were gonna do this rain or shine — except if it was super heavy rain — and everybody that came out was so down for that.”
Glanzer linked other challenges to the unpredictability of a public space, and stated that some of the performances were dependent on the location being free of any hikers or fisherman prior to start-time, but also granted that public space was the backbone for this production.
“Everything is so temporary when you’re at Ward Lake,” she said. “Usually when we do a production we go in and we build a set and the set is there so we can work on it for a week, but with something like this you just kind of pick your spot. It's kind of like guerilla theatre or avant-garde; (the performers) picked their spot and just did it.”