It was almost three hours after the journey began that I made it back to my bike, locked inside the downtown Nashville Public Library parking garage. What happened in those three hours—and so much happened—was a bit of a blur. My heart was still beating fast and my mind racing. I was thankful I had the hour-long ride back to Donelson to process it. That reaction, I imagine, is not uncommon for those that take in SINCE I SUPPOSE, the new, immersive, augmented reality theater experience by Australian collective one step at a time like this and presented by Oz Nashville.
So much of the performance is shrouded in mystery, that it’s not easy to write about it without revealing its secrets. But here’s what I can tell you, some of it already known through promotional materials and news reports from the show’s run in Chicago. The play is based on Shakespeare’s play, Measure for Measure. Considered one the Bard’s three “problem plays” by Shakespeare scholars, the play takes place in Vienna and focuses on themes of justice, corruption, social mores and moral dilemmas. The performance is experienced by one person at a time. Two days before your selected time, you receive an email notifying you of your starting location. At that starting time, at that location, you receive a phone call (a charged cell phone is required) directing you where to go for instruction. It’s at that location that you’re met by an alluring woman who provides you with a mobile device and headphones and lays the groundwork for how to proceed. From there it gets interesting, as you head out into the city with the videos and audio on the mobile device as your guide.
That’s about as much as I can write specifically about it. More vaguely, it challenged my notions about what theater can be, and had me looking at Nashville in a whole new light. Especially the NEW Nashville. Which makes it very much a play and experience for NOW. With both the handheld device and actual actors part of the experience, you’ll be wondering what’s part of the play and what’s simply part of Nashville the whole time. And then you might wonder if there’s really a difference.
It also had me questioning the accuracy of my moral compass and has given me plenty to process. I came to reconsider later in the play my answers to questions I was almost certain of earlier. And it’s all super entertaining, especially if you’re up for getting out of your comfort zone. Proof that even in the digital age, Shakespeare doesn’t disappoint.
Amy Stumpfl, in her review in The Tennessean, says that “one can’t help but be impressed by the logistics of it all” and I concur wholeheartedly. The play takes you all over the place, right past the familiar and inside the hidden. By the end you’ll be wondering just how they managed to pull the whole thing off. Hats off to Oz Arts artistic director Lauren Snelling for the vision to program it, and Cecelia Lighthall for what I’m sure was some challenging stage managing.
There are only 50 tickets left, from what I’m told, as of this posting. Highly recommended. Get them here: