New immersive headphone play premieres this month

“The Missing Chapter,” by Katie Marks & Aoise Stratford, visiting assistant professor of performing and media arts, is The Cherry Art’s new, immersive headphone walking play based on Ithaca's silent film past.  Produced in partnership with Wharton Studio Museum, the play runs Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from August 31–September 9 and begin at the Picnic Pavilion in Stewart Park every 15 minutes. The walk is approximately one hour in length, and ends near the park’s Carousel. 

In “The Missing Chapter,” the audience meets Wharton Studio heroine Beatrice Fairfax, a newspaper advice columnist for the lovelorn and amateur sleuth. The story features Beatrice and her sidekick Jimmy as they solve a crime in the heady days of the women’s suffrage movement, as well as the filming of an episode of the Beatrice Fairfax silent film serial on the Wharton Studio lot. As the audience winds its way through Stewart Park, they discover some thrilling “missing chapters” in the history of Ithaca. 

“Writing ‘The Missing Chapter’ has been a really interesting process for Katie Marks and me,” said Stratford. “It's set in an incredibly rich moment when so much was going on and there was a lot of change in the air, in Ithaca and across the country. And of course we've had great fun using this new form of audio theatre as a way to explore the world of silent film serials, which were an emerging form in their day, too.”

“The Missing Chapter” was inspired by The Cherry’s first foray into headphone walking theatre in 2016 – the hit Storm Country, seen by more than 500 people and hailed by the Ithaca Journal as a “beautiful” and “haunting” “audio adventure.” The play was co-written by Stratford and Nick Salvato, professor of performing and media arts.

“I experienced Storm Country during the summer of 2016 and absolutely loved it,” said Diana Riesman, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Wharton Studio Museum, a local nonprofit dedicated to preserving and celebrating Ithaca’s silent movie history. “The play really stayed with me, and I thought it would be wonderful to develop a similar type of theatre experience using the Wharton Studio era as a backdrop for a story, and to have the play take place in 1915 Stewart Park where the historic studio building still stands.”  

“When we produced Storm Country it was so rewarding to not only introduce Ithaca-area audiences to some hidden histories of Ithaca, but also to explore a new and exciting kind of theater making,” said Sam Buggeln, artistic director of the Cherry. “Ithaca’s silent film history is another wonderful source of only-in-Ithaca stories.”

Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.TheCherry.org.

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 Green, old-fashioned image of Beatrice Fairfax
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