There are different worlds that exist. Didn’t you know?
Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers for Chapter 1 of The Key
There are different worlds that exist. Didn’t you know? Perhaps you thought we were the only ones to occupy this universe. But, this past weekend, the winds brought in an opportunity to experience one of these worlds. It’s a place of promise, magic, war, rebellions, and hope. A place you may have heard of: a world called Oz.
On an unusually blustery night, I walked up to a home in a quiet residential area. The email instructions cautioned against being deceived by the environment, promising that “wonders await.” A cash bar and an inviting fire welcomed me. A small group of travelers crowded around the fire trying to stay warm. Two by two, those who had answered the recruiting call were brought to a large, colorful, billowing circus tent set up right in the backyard. A very excited man in a green coat and a curled mustache greeted us with as much gusto as the winds provided that night.
“Are you tired of living paycheck to paycheck?” He asked us. We both replied ‘yes!’ nodding our heads firmly. “Are you tired of having the dust bowl blow away your crops?” Another yes, realizing we weren’t in Los Angeles anymore. He spoke of a better future, promise, hope, a world where we didn’t have to struggle. Through those tent doors, a different land awaits. But first, a question. He turned to my partner and asked her “You wake up one more to find a dead wasp in your bed. What do you do?” She thought and gave the enthusiastic man her answer. He pulled out a deck of cards, sifting through looking carefully for one in particular. He found the one and placed it in her hand. Then he turned to me, “You get a call that a relative, someone you had never heard of, has passed away. What do you do about it?” I thought about the question then gave him my answer. Shuffling through once more he pulled out a three of diamonds and handed it to me. Now we were ready. He pulled back the tent door, and we stepped behind the curtain.
The Key, Chapter 1 out of a planned 8 to 12 Chapters from the Kansas Collection, is an introduction to OZ meant to garner your interest. Stories were told of the Scarecrow king who may be losing his sanity, a lost princess, the Patchwork rebellion, and an elusive Dorothy Gale, who you are not to trust. The Speakeasy Society painted a world through an unique set, talented cast, and a different take on a story we all have heard. From the detailing in their set – the “Keep Kansas Clean” sign propped up against an old trunk – to the style of their handsome costumes ,they showed care in developing their environments. Capturing an audience’s attention, enough to make someone want to come back and experience more, in only twenty minutes is difficult. But they succeeded in capturing my attention, in appealing to a grander sense of mystery. I now wear the key I was given on a bracelet around my wrist while I patiently await Chapter 2.
When swapping stories with those who also traveled through, we realized that many of us had different experiences. Even when speaking to the same character, we were given different paths or stories. Those who spoke to Phil were either asked to take an oath to the Scarecrow King or were offered a secret handshake to pledge themselves to the resistance. I had the opportunity to speak to Ozma, others may know her as Phoebe, who asked me to swear my allegiance to her, providing me secret cover in the Scarecrow’s militia. Some were told to give a message to the man in the top hat while others were told to stay away. If they followed through, they unlocked a special scene and even coordinates to a hidden message showing the insanity of the Scarecrow King himself. These different paths are promising. Having choice and being able to influence your direction is one of the many elements that makes immersive theater so alluring. We will have to wait and see if the choices we made during The Key will have a lasting effect in future Chapters.
Though the storm has now passed and the winds have gone, The Key left it’s mark. Some may have promised allegiance to the Scarecrow King, others to the Patchwork rebellion and a few spoke to the great Wizard of Oz himself. Whatever path the road took you, it was filled with beauty, enchantment and mystery. Eagerly, I wait for Chapter 2, wanting to unveil the mystery of OZ. Until then, the small key I was given during the show will stay tied to my wrist. It sits as a reminder of the oath I took that night:
“No place else but here. No when else but now. No one else but I.”