Below is a review of the Rogue Artists Ensemble’s Valentine Van.
Oh, Valentine’s Day. Flowers are sold on every corner and chocolate purchases go through the roof. Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that you either love or hate. People automatically associate it with having a significant other – but really why can’t it just be about love in general? Love between family members, friends, those who have passed on, or even pets. Celebrating love in all its forms is exactly what the Valentine Van brought us, and it really made my Valentine’s Day one to remember.
The Valentine Van was a short 10-15 minute traveling immersive show that changed location on a daily basis. For the price of $15 you had the choice to enter the show alone or bring someone with you. With your ticket, you also received a homemade chocolate and one personalized Valentine note. Put on by the amazingly creative Rogue Artists Ensemble, who are known for their imaginative work with set design and shadow play, the Valentine Van continued those trademark attributes. Their fantastic storytelling and visually stimulating design work shined through with a more personal touch than their previous shows. Coming from much larger-scaled events such as Kaiden Project: Walls Grow Thin and Señor Plummer’s Final Fiesta, Rogue Artists’ Valentine Van showed us exactly what they were capable of achieving on a much smaller level.
Guests arrived to their white van, which was covered in traditional pink and red hearts signifying the lovey-dovey occasion, and definitely hard to miss. After being greeted by the MC (played by the incredible, and always so fun and playful – Amir Levi during my visit), you soon realize you are about to meet a creature who famously creates the most outstanding Valentine notes you’ll ever read. An incredibly humorous questionnaire allows you to decide who the Valentine is for, and who it’s from. This can range from someone who is not present, the guest you brought with you, or even your dog. What scent would you choose? Lavender? Febreze, perhaps? Which of these textures speaks to you? Silk? Or maybe the Barbie Dream House?
Before entering the van, you have a chance to solve some puzzles, which are quite confusing and complicated – but isn’t that what love is like? Every little detail of this event was curated to present all the different embodiments of love – fun, uplifting, awkward, perplexing and even a little forlorn. Once you enter the van, you are completely surrounded by all things traditionally associated with romance and sentimentality: love letters hanging from the ceiling, stuffed animals, and beautiful mood lights. It really set the stage for making you feel completely encompassed by all the love that exists in your own life.
The Valentine Van was a deeply personal show that greatly depended on the audience member’s choices and recollections. The characters of the show guided you to pick different items which utilized all of your different senses. You’d be asked to recall what a certain scent reminded you of, leading to a discussion about someone who loves you. The Valentine Van expertly led the way through your own personal memories of love, and made for a uniquely beautiful experience.
With the fully realized and heartfelt Valentine Van, Rogue Artists Ensemble succeeds once again. They have never failed to transport guests to fantastic, faraway places, and this show really is a testament to that – especially by using something as simple as an everyday transportation vehicle. Only Rogue Artists could have you connect so deeply with a mysterious love note-writing creature to the point where you wish you could release it back out into the world to spread its marvelous gift to everyone. Leaving this show with your own personalized Valentine that you helped create can do nothing more than fill your heart with warmth and put a giant smile on your face. Rogue Artists managed to bring Valentine’s Day to a whole new level, and remind us that, no matter where you are in this life, you are loved – always.
All photos used are from Rogue Artists Ensemble’s Instagram page.