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Cardinal Stage's Walkabout Plays Connect Audiences To Community

Cardinal Stage artistic director Kate Galvin talks about the walkabout plays on a Zoom call.

Cardinal Stage artistic director Kate Galvin talks about the walkabout radio play series. (Lilly St. Angelo)

Bloomington theater company Cardinal Stage was forced to get creative this fall when COVID-19 canceled its regular season.

Cardinal Stage artistic director Kate Galvin was inspired by an idea she heard about at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival called a walkabout play. She used this idea to create Cardinal Stage’s fall Walkabout Radio Play series called "The Women in the Woods."

“That concept had stuck in my brain and made its way out of the crevices of my brain when I was trying to figure out how to create theater in the middle of this pandemic," Galvin said.

Site-specific and entirely recorded, audience members purchase access to the recordings and walk to different places around IU’s campus and downtown Bloomington, stopping to listen to the story at certain locations on their mobile devices.

The play series was written by Josie Gingrich and Emily Goodson. Goodson, who grew up in Bloomington, was eager to write a story set in her hometown.

“When we started the idea of a walkabout tour, I think what was most attractive to me was the idea of taking a place you love and letting that inspire the story instead of having the story inspire the places,” Goodson said.

Galvin wanted the radio play series to make audience members see the world they know well in a new, imaginative light. The first two episodes of the story are set in iconic locations on IU’s campus including the graveyard next to the Indiana Memorial Union and Dunn’s Woods. The third and fourth are set downtown on the courthouse square and along the B-Line trail.

"It is about a young woman named Ellie who comes to IU and when she gets here she discovers that she has very deep roots in Bloomington that she never knew about and she is called upon to become a sentinel to guard the city of Bloomington against some forces of evil that are out to get the people in the town," Galvin said.

The Women in the Woods is recommended for ages 14 and up and all four parts of the series are now available for purchase. Galvin said the series is being offered as a package deal in time for Thanksgiving break for families looking for entertainment.

“We had so much fun doing it," Goodson said. "I went with my husband and with my kids. I walk these woods with my parents frequently because my parents are up on First and Jordan and so this is where they walk their dog so we just put our headphones in and walked the tour several times.”

Although Galvin said the ticket sales from the series won’t fill the financial gap that the company and so many other creative arts organizations have from the pandemic, she hopes it will keep patrons connected to Cardinal Stage and to their community.

Access to the plays can be purchased on Cardinal Stage's website. The suggested donation for each of the four plays is $10 to $15 or all four plays can be purchased for $50.

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