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Create your own play with the Buffalo Laboratory Theatre

WHO WILL YOU PICK? — Audience members of the Buffalo Laboratory Theatre’s newest production, “Build Your Own Adventure: The Mystery of the Silver Chalice,” will be able to vote for what direction the play goes, by using audience response devices. Pictured, from left, are three date choices for the main character: Marie Costa, Kathleen Golde and Katie White. Photo submitted by Kathleen Golde.
HAMBURG — The Buffalo Laboratory Theatre is taking experimentation to the next level. “Build Your Own Adventure: The Mystery of the Silver Chalice” will be presented by that company on Friday and Saturday evenings from April 11 – 26 at the Swan Auditorium Theatre on Hilbert College’s campus in Hamburg.

“We are embarking on some cool new territory for theater,” said Kathleen Golde, associate artistic director of the company. “This particular production is going to be a really fun comedy where our audience members, from the comfort of their chair, can affect the play.”

Like the “Choose Your Own Adventure” book series, attendees will decide what will happen with the characters as the play goes along, by using audience response device.

These tools can be seen utilized where live polling takes place, such as on the show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” The devices which, according to Golde, are more simple than TV remotes, will allow the seated audience to vote about where the story will go and what will happen to the characters.

Since the audience will change each night, as will the story, one evening’s performance will never be the same as the next. “You can come back and find a different play,” Golde said.

The premise of the story is about a man named Robert (played by John Kaczorowski) and his bad luck with romance. He comes upon a silver chalice, which contains a genie emcee character.

Golde said that the performance’s structure is similar to that of a game show; the genie will interact directly with the audience and the polling percentages will be displayed, as the show goes on.

“This isn’t a static piece of theater,” Golde said. This particular form has been experimented in Europe and the theater company has expressed the hope that it will “break new ground” by bringing the style to Western New York, Golde said.

“[This play] shifts the construct of theater from something that is delivered, to something that is experienced, and lived,” she added. “This is us inviting folks into our lab, to be a part of creating a theater.”

Artistic Director Taylor Doherty wrote the play; he is the cofounder of Buffalo Laboratory Theatre, along with Golde.

“I am genuinely dying to know what choices [the audience] will make,” Doherty said. “It’s going to make for a magical, adventurous night of theater no matter what, but as a theater artist, writer and director, I can’t wait to see which choices appeal to the audience. Will they usually make the choice that they think will get the protagonist what he needs? Or will they purposely drive him off an emotional cliff?”

This play is an experimentation into audience response theory, a sociological-type creation in which theater and technology intersect. Senior Media Designer Steven Fox and Doherty collaborated, to create a multimedia experience.

“This is where many theater explorations are attempting to go,” Golde said. “We can’t deny we’re a technological society.”

“Build Your Own Adventure: The Mystery of the Silver Chalice” will be presented at the Swan Auditorium Theatre on Hilbert College’s campus, located at 5200 S. Park Ave. in Hamburg.

Curtain will be at 7:30 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday evenings, from April 11 – 26. For more information about the show, visit www.buffalolabtheatre.org.

To purchase tickets, visit that website, call 1-800-838-3006 or email tickets@buffalolabtheatre.org; tickets will also be available at the door.
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