UNLV to host its first “Parking Lot Plays”, promising an audience a special experience

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Graphic by Kayla Roberts.

UNLV’s Nevada Conservatory Theatre is organizing Parking Lot Plays to provide its participants with an extraordinary experience.

“Parking Lot Plays are a series of short plays that take place in a parking lot. Each piece has been written for the particular car,” says Kirsten Brandt, chair of Nevada Conservatory Theatre and executive director.

Arts in The Center: Parking Lot Plays, to be held on April 21, will be the first parking lot performance in UNLV’s parking area, inviting visitors to attend. Warren Cobb, Associate Dean of the College of Fine Arts, explains the creation of this project, “The College of Fine Arts initiated an Arts Innovation Lab this year, seeking distinctive, innovative and boundary-pushing projects. We aim to get our students into the local community, reaching those who may have yet to have the opportunity to visit the University and experience our work.”

Cobb explains that he and Brandt brainstormed together in line with this goal, and Brandt asked if he would consider doing Parking Lot Plays. “Intrigued, I said, ‘What is that?’ Upon hearing her explanation, I said, ‘Oh yeah, we’re doing that. Tell me what you need,’” he says.

Visitors will watch five performances at the Parking Lot Plays, each lasting approximately 10 minutes, without the usual theater stage. The event will feature three performances at 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Brandt describes the flow of the performance, saying, “We have five vehicles spread out in the lot. The audience is split into five groups of 10 and assigned a ‘Crossing Guard” who will guide them to each parking lot space/vehicle. They will then rotate to the next parking spot (with their crossing guard) until they see all five pieces.”

Brandt, when asked about the similarity between parking lot plays and drive-in theaters, both of which lack traditional theater stages or settings, said that these two are not quite similar. She says, in Parking Lot Plays, “The audience isn’t in their car. During COVID, there was a lot of “drive-in” style theater. But this is the opposite. Audiences will be walking from piece to piece.”

She also explains the plays that are going to be performed, “The five plays are brand new pieces written for our students by me and Professor Michael Lugering. They have been developed with the undergraduate students. The entire team, production design, costume design, stage management and technical direction, are all students. All the actors are undergraduates.”

Parking Lot Plays will bring a new breath to the performances held at UNLV with its venue choice and style. Brandt says, “For the last decade, artists have been creating small pieces in cars, trollies, trains and other modes of transit. For us, when we saw the lot in the Historic Commercial Center, we knew we wanted to create some plays in the lot. Found space and immersive environments are exciting for audiences and for the creative team.”

When asked what the most important thing about this play was, she says, “Theater can happen anywhere.

Arts in The Center: Parking Lot Plays will occur on Monday, April 21, at the Commercial Center Parking Lot. The event is free and open to the public.

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