After a successful run at City Theatre last year, REALTIME INTERVENTIONS’ original production of People of Pittsburgh: The Alchemist of Sharpsburg will be revived at Atithi Studios in Sharpsburg for two nights only, on February 17 & 18, 2023.
The first show in RealTime’s performance series People of Pittsburgh: The Alchemist of Sharpsburg is a live, interactive exploration of the life of Candra, a Hindu-practicing, black-metal-listening game enthusiast with multigenerational roots in Sharpsburg, PA.
People of Pittsburgh: The Alchemist of Sharpsburg is written and “game-mastered” by RealTime Artistic Director Rusty Thelin, who has teamed up with ceramicist, mixed-media sculptor, and fellow gamer Emmanuelle “Manu” Wambach to tell this extraordinary Sharpsburger’s story. They blended theater and game design elements to create an original experience in which the audience unlocks the secrets of Candra’s life by playing an actual game together.
Although audience members can opt out of participating directly and take the role of observers, some brave “spect-actors” will portray characters from Candra’s life, maps will be consulted, dice will be rolled, and by the end of the show, everyone— participants and observers alike— will level up.
Says Thelin, “I knew within minutes of talking with Candra for the first time that this was someone who contained multitudes. He has challenged my assumptions about religion, spirituality, and society in general and led me to see the neighborhood of Sharpsburg in a new, more nuanced way. My hope that this theatrical experience will do the same for our audiences.”
Three generations of Candra’s family lived just blocks from the performance site, Atithi Studios (a new gallery, event, and studio space in the heart of Sharpsburg). Many of the landmarks mentioned in the show are within walking distance. The piece is as much a celebration of Sharpsburg itself as it is an artistic depiction of one of its residents.
The original production received raves from reviewers and audiences alike. It was a Pittsburgh Magazine Top Pick, and Wendy Arons of Pittsburgh Tatler wrote, “I was thoroughly engaged and charmed by this unique evening of theater. RealTime’s alchemical experimentation with theatrical form is, in the end, not only about Candra’s extraordinary ordinary life; it’s also about the transformative power of story.” The national outlet No Proscenium described the show as “a study of transformation. By the end of the 2-hour show, you become part of Candra’s life by imitating it. By knowing and telling one’s story, your own story is interwoven among the people of Pittsburgh.” Audiences have described it as “beautifully surprising,” “gripping, “thought-provoking,” and “realistic to Sharpsburg;” one audience member described her experience in this way: “We laughed, we were somber, we sang (or I did, anyway), we got to participate as much (or as little) as we liked, and I, for one, felt a profound connection to my fellow Pittsburghers, to this wonderful place, to our home.”
RealTime’s People of Pittsburgh performance series, continuing through 2023 and beyond, is a love letter to the artists and residents of this city. Each production unites artists from different artistic disciplines, challenging them to work together to depict an ordinary Pittsburgh resident through an artistic lens. Says co-Artistic Director Molly Rice, “Everyone, if you look closely enough, is a work of art, and the way a unique human being is depicted can be as original as the person themselves.”
The next People of Pittsburgh production is slated for June of 2023. It will feature Mary Carey, an extraordinary, ordinary resident of Braddock, Pennsylvania, and will be creatively helmed by Molly Rice and Christine Bethea.
People of Pittsburgh: The Alchemist of Sharpsburg will be presented at Atithi Studios (1020 North Canal Street, Sharpsburg 15215) Friday and Saturday, February 17 & 18, at 7 PM. Tickets are $10 for Sharpsburg residents and will go on sale on February 1st. More information and a ticket link will be available at www.realtimeinterventions.org.