Choose your own adventure down the LA River with this interactive theater performance – LA Daily News

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The L.A. River has a lot stories it wants to tell, and those who decide to go along for the ride can choose their own adventure as they weave through its banks and waters while hearing tales of the iconic waterway.

The nonprofit River L.A., an organization dedicated to revitalizing river, has teamed up with experiential artist Mikhael Tara Garver to create a new journey through the river called “Rio Records.”

The interactive online experience launched Jan. 11 and runs through Feb. 7. It mixes live performances with recorded videos, music, history lessons and art to tell the story of the 51-mile L.A. River and the city that grew around its banks.

“These are all mythical stories. They’re related to the river, they’re based on real historic events and cultural facts that some people don’t even know,” said Krisztina “Z” Holly, vice chair of River L.A. and one of the creators of “Rio Records.”

The 70-minute online experience, which is open to 100 participants per performance, begins with viewers meeting researcher Allison Vincent, who is discussing her dissertation on the river via a Zoom-style presentation.

The viewers have logged in to learn about her work, but soon she reveals a map with five different stories she’s discovered related to the L.A. River that all revolve around a mysterious character called “V.”

The stories include tales about things such as the jazz clubs that once dotted Central Avenue near the river and the story of a woman who once stole an indigenous recipe from her housekeeper in the 1880s and created a huge company with it.

Participants can then choose one of the five stories to pursue which will take them down a different path (or tributary as the organizers call it) of the river, and within each story are other different paths people can click on.

It’s sort of like the Choose Your Own Adventure books, but much more artsy and high-tech.

“Each tributary focuses in on a different family tree or series of characters, or story or topics and they are all entwined in some way,” Garver said.

One path includes images of old jazz clubs that once thrived near the river as well as poetic fictional stories being told as viewers see a couple walking down the banks of the river.

There are even times when participants can interact with the performers in real time.

For example, at one point a phone number appears that you can call to talk to Vincent directly. In a conference call she asks participants what they’ve discovered along the way so far, presumably to add to her research about the vital waterway. During the jazz story, you can create your own song.

“In each of these maps it’s like you’re piecing together different parts of the story, you are supporting Allison,” Garver said.

But you’ll have to come back a few times to take down all the paths since participants can only go down one path per show.

While the performance is online for now, there are plans for a live audience show if  COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed.

Rio Records

When: 7 p.m. Thursday-Sunday and 4 p.m. Saturday through Feb. 7

Cost: $25-$40


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