Bricolage Production Co. outdoes itself yet again with ambitious immersive theater: Dodo with and at the Carnegie Museums of Art and of Natural History (and cameo appearances by the Carnegie Music Hall). Part of the Carnegie Nexus initiative, Dodo tackles issues of extinction and survival through intimate connections with art and science.
Like Bricolage’s STRATA before (but dwarfing it), Dodo takes small groups (no more than six at a time) on a varying journey that breaks down into a unique experience for each visitor. One cannot speak of an “audience,” since theater-goers themselves participate in shaping the event. Indeed, it’s the “audience” that actively moves through the space, with actors (and the occasional museum scientist) moored to single locations within it.
Prepare for a lot of walking: through darkened public galleries and exhibits, into behind-the-scenes working labs and study areas, indeed right into the bowels of the buildings’ infrastructure. No matter how many times you’ve been to the museums, you will see a lot of stuff you didn’t even know existed. There’s also more than a little bit of sensory overload, but there’s always support available for the dazed.
The same team behind STRATA produced Dodo: co-creators Jeffrey Carpenter, Sam Turich, Tami Dixon (also listed as directors) and Gab Cody, also lead writer. Bricolage artistic director Carpenter and producing artistic director Dixon may show up in small acting roles behind a cast of 14, not all of whom you are likely to encounter in a single visit.
Augmenting the museums’ palette are lighting designers Clear Story, led by Rob Long, with design and technology specialists Chris Michaels, Pete Milo, CJ McDermott and Chris Craychee; and sound designers District 5 Sound, a collective comprising Sarah Pickett, Christopher Evans and David Gotwald. Let’s also give a hand to project coordinator Cory F. Goddard and scene designer/technical director Hank Bullington. There is no other curtain call for this massive undertaking.
In a journey encompassing pre-history and organisms large and small, light and art, sound and fury, Dodo asks existentialist questions and leaves play-goers to seek answers. And it’s fun, on the good side of weird.