‘How to Hero’ immerses its audience

Ana Peres Bogo, Writer

“How to Hero, or the Subway Play” by Georgette Kelly just had its run of six days (Nov. 14-16, 21-23) at the Stage Centre Theatre. In a partnership with Filament Theatre, the play sold out almost every performance. The play was a youth-oriented performance featuring exceptional dialogue that everyone could enjoy. “How to Hero, or the Subway Play” was also great story that teaches its audience how to cope with loss and what constitutes a true friendship. 

It was an immersive theatre experience, which is something that is becoming more popular in theaters throughout the U.S.. The audience walks with the characters through different scenarios. The performance lasted 70 minutes with no intermission. The audience was standing up with the actors most of the time, only sitting down once. “How to Hero, or the Subway Play” offered a very different experience that truly brought the storytellers and their audiences together. “How to Hero, or the Subway Play” highlighted the  difference between sitting down to enjoy a play as a casual observer and actively participating in the performance.

The play tells the story of Webster (Leo Aranda) and his sister Rory (Abbey Kruse), two siblings who recently lost their father. With the help of their friend Madison (Susana Acevedo), they enter a quest to find their father’s missing words, as well as the fond memories that they inspire. It is a rereading of the classic Greek myth “Perseus.” The audience, in the immersive experience, walked the subway tunnels of New York City with the characters. Which only enhanced the emotions the play was trying to provoke. 

Webster wanted to be Perseus, the hero in one of the many stories of his father’s book. His sister ended up occupying the role of Medusa and Madison was the princess that he needed to save. Throughout the play, the characters routinely reference Greek mythology. They enter what they perceive as the underworld (the subway tunnels) after passing through three workers, which they see as a three-headed dog. Overall, the play served as a fun way to learn a bit more about the classic tale of Perseus, especially for the kids that attended the play. 

“How to Hero, the Subway Play” was definitely a sensorial experience. From the lights, the smell and the sounds – especially the whispers which was a big part of the narrative–each aspect helped create the atmosphere of the magical journey that both the character and the audience were experiencing. The spectators even received a small prop, a flashlight, to help while entering the dark ‘underworld’. 

“How to Hero, or the Subway Play,” the last State Center Theatre production of the 2019 fall semester, was a fantastic way to finish the season, leaving everyone who attended eager to see what else they might produce during the upcoming semester.