Rorschach Theatre announces the world premiere of an immersive rock experience, Angel Number Nine, adapted by James L. Rogers III and Jenny McConnell Frederick from the novel by James L. Rogers III, directed by Jenny McConnell Frederick.
Angel Number Nine will play July 7 to 30, 2023, at Washington Square, 1020 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC (near the Farragut North Metro Station). Purchase tickets ($30–$45) online. Pay-What-You-Can Previews July 7-9. Discounts, including information about limited $10 tickets, can be found here. This show contains mature content. For more detailed descriptions visit rorschachtheatre.com/angel-content-information/.
ABOUT THE PLAY
When Angel meets Cupid in a bar and her band gets an opening slot on a tour, life takes some unexpected turns into a past she tried to leave behind. Part rock show, part booze-soaked road trip through the dive bars and dark clubs of the late ’90s East Coast music scene, Angel Number Nine shows us that the things we need are sometimes found on the roads we tried to avoid.
Rorschach will transform the two-level former retail space at 1020 Connecticut Avenue NW into the ’90s bars and rock clubs of Angel Number Nine, complete with drinks for purchase, and a pre-show experience with curated listening stations, vinyl for sale, and an exhibit highlighting hidden histories of DC music.
Angel Number Nine will also serve as the culmination of 2022/2023 Psychogeographies Project Dissonant Cities. The show can be appreciated with or without participation in the seven-chapter, year-long project.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
James L. Rogers III is a writer, lyricist, voice-over artist, and professional problem solver. He is a former Lucas Arts writer-in-residence and winner at the Source Theater Festival. His short plays and poetry have been featured on numerous DC stages, some of which he helped construct. His work explores the darker side of human nature through irreverence and humor.
Jenny McConnell Frederick is a director, producer, and maker of impossible theater. She’s the co-artistic director of Rorschach Theatre which she founded in the summer of 1999 with Randy Baker. For Rorschach, she has directed more than a dozen shows including the Helen Hayes Nominated Voices Underwater and God of Vengeance, as well as both of the sold-out runs of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. In 2020 she co-conceived the Psychogeographies concept for Rorschach. In 2015, she conceived and directed Truth & Beauty Bombs, an original work based on the Canadian webcomic, “A Softer World.” She co-created Chambers of the Heart and Move!, two immersive dance/theater projects at Word Dance Theatre. She served as artistic director of CulturalDC’s Source Festival and Mead Theatre Lab Program. In that capacity, she oversaw the selection, development, and production of more than 200 works for the stage over nearly a decade. She graduated cum laude from Virginia Commonwealth University with a BFA in Theatre and briefly joined Mensa for the free pencils. She lives in Takoma, DC, with her husband and their long-term collaboration, a son named Thane.
“There’s an intoxicating interplay of community and anonymity in dive bars and dark rock clubs, “ McConnell Frederick says, “so it’s an ideal backdrop for a story about figuring out who your people are and how to make peace among the dissonance.”
“The idea of a piece of theater punctuated and highlighted by a series of rock concerts seemed, to me, to be the perfect next life for Angel’s story,” Rogers says of adapting the novel with McConnell Frederick. “I wanted to hear those songs come off the page and fill a room. I wanted, for myself and for the audience, to experience the highs and lows, the visceral emotions, of these characters, and these songs, in an immediate and physical way.”
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
Angel Number Nine will be directed by Jenny McConnell Frederick and feature Ian Armstrong (He/Him) as Fred, Billy Bob Bonson (He/Him) as Wally, Veronica Bundy (She/Her) as Delia, Lauren Farnell (They/Them) as Connie, Kate Kenworthy (They/Them) as Angel, Irene Hamilton (She/Her) as Christa, Bri Houtman (They/She) as Daniel, Max Johnson (He/Him) as Billy, James Carlos Lacey (He/Him) as Jesus, CC Meade (She/Her) as Sophie, and Robert Bowen Smith (He/Him) as Cupid.
The design and production team includes Nadir Bey as Set Designer, Kylos Brannon as Video Designer, James Morrison as Lighting Designer, Ian Vespermann as Sound Designer, Shawn Northrip as Composer, Ashlynn Ludwig as Costume Designer, Christian Sullivan as Technical Director, Caraline Jeffrey as Stage Manager, and more artists to be announced.
McConnell Frederick and the design team will transform a former clothing store at 1020 Connecticut Avenue NW into a hazy, vibrant dive bar in which audiences can have a total evening of experiences. When the audience enters the space, the ground floor will offer a fully immersive history of DC music. There will be vendors selling vinyl records and Rorschach’s Psychogeographies chapters, as well as mixtape listening stations curated by local experts Amanda Mackaye, Dunia Best, Aram Sinnreich and others to be announced.
When they descend the stairs into the basement they will find a space transformed into a ’90s-era rock club, like local favorites the Black Cat or DC9. The audience will be able to sit in a mix of cocktail and cabaret tables throughout the space as the story unfolds all around them. Guests will be able to purchase drinks at the in-house — and in-story — bar before and after the show. The space allows for audiences to come early and stay late to enjoy the immersive experience — they may even bring dinner from local restaurants to eat before the show!
ABOUT RORSCHACH THEATRE
Through uncommon uses of environment and intimate passionate performances, Rorschach Theatre seeks to lure its audiences beyond the limits of ordinary theatrical experience so that they may discover new elements of their own humanity.
Rorschach Theatre tells stories that allow for innovative design and visceral performances. The company treats productions as “installations” that surround the audience with the world of a play. Our work centers on the intersection of magic or impossible moments and everyday human experiences. Without proselytizing, it provides a complex, intellectual catalyst for self-exploration of challenging subjects. Catalyzed by the circumstances of 2020, the company leveraged our unique strengths to create Psychogeographies, a groundbreaking project that combines history, fiction, magic realism, and real-world excursions in a new kind of theatrical experience. This season-long immersive narrative takes participants to lesser-known spots around their city as a story unfolds through letters, artifacts, and objects mailed in monthly chapters.
Beginning during the Covid-19 pandemic, Rorschach began producing “Psychogeographies” — season-long immersive narratives that take participants to lesser-known spots around their city as a story unfolds through letters, artifacts, and objects mailed in monthly chapters.
Rorschach is also a vital launching pad for emerging artists. By trusting early-career actors, directors, playwrights, and designers with substantive artistic responsibilities, and surrounding them with established professionals and ample resources, the company has become an essential showcase for new talent. In addition to its regular season, Rorschach produces “Magic in Rough Spaces,” an annual new play development series; “Klecksography,” an annual new artist development event (for actors, local playwrights, and directors); and “Fight Camp,” a stage combat training program held every summer.
Embrace curiosity. Rorschach Theatre’s ‘Dissonant City’ begins. (review of first two chapters by Rebecca Calkin, November 28, 2022)