Stark Spirits Hosts Intimate, Surprising ABC Project Performance

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11:39 am | September 5, 2017

Stark Spirits had the fun and excitement of providing a setting for the ABC Project, an artistic creation of Annie Lesser.

Performances took place August 24, 27, 27 and 30. The ABC project is working its way through the alphabet, and had worked its way to “D.” Ms. Lesser heard that Stark Spirits was a great little (D)istillery and asked if Stark Spirits would be interested, which it was. Karen and Greg Stark were more than happy to provide the setting for Annie’s “Pop-up Theatre” production. Ms. Lesser has established herself as a creative genius in immersive theatre. Immersive theatre? Yes, a highly artistic exploration of the human spirit, human emotions, it is theatre that requires audience participation. It’s an edgy, challenging experience for that audience, and wildly successful in bringing them to a deeper understanding of themselves and compassion for others.

“D is for distillery” was presented in 20 minute performances, permitting only six people at a time to participate. With 5 performances for the four nights, there was a waiting list of disappointed fans. The lucky chosen found their way to Pasadena and Stark Spirits where they found a welcoming atmosphere that Karen and Greg provided. Each performance allowed only 6 audience members, who were required to say nothing whatever the performers might say or do. When the smiling, exhilarated audience left each performance, they gathered to discuss the play and to question Greg and Karen about how they could learn more about Stark Spirits. Of course, they were told they could book a tour and a tasting on their website,

D is for Distillery was different in tone than most of Ms. Lesser’s other pop-up plays. The production at Stark Spirits was challenging towards introspection more than an exploration of darker themes for which she is known. She referenced equipment in the distillery as essential elements for carrying the theme of her play. The story took the participants on a journey that began with chaos—referencing the mash kettle where the various raw elements are brought together, beginning the act of creation. Uses dialog, poetry and movement to describe the transformation into mature spirits, the ultimate destiny for the person as well as the barreled spirits!

There were three performs in the mini-play, working ensemble to evoke the depths of meaning. Shayne Eastin, Orion Schwalm and Lena Valentine together described and evoked the many facets of transformation of the human spirit. To create a sense of unbalance in the expectations of the audience, the play had them interjecting a reversion to everyday, matter of fact elements of a tour of our distillery. It was fascinating and at times very moving as the thread of inner life and external reality were interwoven. Throughout, Kellan Meador produced music intrinsic to the play, a beautiful, intense, discordant, an ever-changing background and sometimes foreground.

There was hustle and sometimes frantic bustle to prepare the distillery for accommodating performers and audience. It provided Karen and Greg a real role as set crew! When all was in order, they relaxed and enjoyed this opportunity to support the arts. Stark Spirits pursues its goal of enhancing and increasing the reputation of the City of Pasadena as a happening place!