A group of improvisational actors are giving new meaning to “dinner and a show.”
By inviting the audience to sit and eat with them as they create drama, the “creative collaborators” of “Show: Up!” are breaking down the “fourth wall,” according to directors William Bryant Miles and Nickolas Vaughan.
Set at a location in the city (an apartment, a gallery, an artist commune), the show is set up as a dinner or cocktail party among friends and strangers, except some of them are actors who will get you tangled up in a web of drama.
You may forget it’s a show because it’s an actual dinner party. Everything seems normal — there are no cameras, special lights or a script. It is even catered by Shellie Porter, the show’s culinary director, who curates the menu based on the characters who are hosting it, Miles said.
While some participants have come away from the show with new friends and others have left angry, taking sides in the actors’ arguments, everyone at some point doesn’t know what’s real and what’s not, Miles said.
“It’s not presentational at all — you’re sitting at the table with the actors,” he added. “It allows you to get inside the story. The audience can go on a journey, rather than just watching the actors.”
Adding another level of reality, the actors will take selfies and Snapchat videos in character, too.
The shows, which are called “episodes,” are connected and center around five characters who live in New York City. Those who attend the show will be first introduced to them as they might any potential friend — on social media. Each one has an Instagram account full of selfies and photos of friends, with no reference to the show or any hint that the person isn’t a real person.
“They all have followers who don’t know it’s a made-up experience,” Miles said. “So there’s some social experimentation with that.”
Each episode builds on the events of the previous one, and people can follow along online as “Show: Up!” posts recaps online.
The next episode (the third in the fourth season) is slated for April 28 at an undisclosed location in Brooklyn. Participants are notified of the exact venue 24 hours before the show begins.
To prepare you for the next episode, here’s what and who you need to know, according to “Show: Up!”:
Carlos Valentino (@carloco — valentino)
“Spicy and bold, Carlos is willing to do whatever it takes to get to the top — even if he isn’t quite sure which mountain he’s climbing. NYC provides the perfect opportunity for him to dream, and dream again, and again. Whether he’s designing clothes, making short films or “discovering” talent, Carlos is ready for it all.”
Derrick Robles (@derrick — robles)
“A relentless hard worker, Derrick spends his days grinding hard to set himself up for the American dream: The career, the house, the wife, the kids. Only problem is, he seems to be working in reverse. He’s a divorcee with a young daughter, and he’s learning there just may not be enough hours in the day.”
Oni Young-Smith (@oni — earth)
“Queen of resilience, Oni is determined to squeeze every ounce of joy out of this life. A cancer survivor, Oni won’t be lulled into a false state of dreaming, but has a clear vision for who she wants to be and what she will say in this world. Everyone else needs to watch out — her life is divine.”
Rebecca A. Young (@rebeccagirl2013)
“Over the last five years, Rebecca has been squirreling money away and slowly building her dream business, all while working full time at a job she hates. Now she’s ready to take it to the next level. But success is hard fought, and even the best laid plans sometimes go awry.”
Troy (not on Instagram)
“A recent transplant to NYC, Troy is rebuilding herself one day at a time. What at first seemed like a nightmare is now an opportunity for her to chase the true dream. But Troy is learning that starting over is easier said than done.”
Tickets are $125 and include food and the show, which runs from 6 to 8 p.m.