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Theatre Across Borders offers outdoor theater for the COVID era 

click to enlarge COURTESY THEATRE ACROSS BORDERS
  • Courtesy Theatre Across Borders

Outdoor theater is already a magical experience for any attendee lucky enough to catch a rare “al fresco” performance. Theatre Across Borders aims to amplify that feeling of wonder even more with a brand new experience — interactive family theater hikes.

Featuring a 1-mile hike accompanied by a trailside performance, Magic of the Marsh tells the story of a jealous witch who has thrown the local ecosystem into chaos after stealing the Neverflower. It’s up to the audience to help bring balance back to nature as they travel along the path. The characters are as wild as the land, with fairies, a goblin, a beast of the tall grass and a witch all making an appearance along the way. The cast consists of actors, puppeteers and musicians from the Pikes Peak region.

In addition to its fun hiking element, the play is unique in that it was developed to accommodate the new restrictions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. Producer Melissa Law founded Theatre Across Borders during the pandemic, using funds from her wedding, which she was forced to cancel due to the virus. In a recent press release, Law explained why she made the decision to reinvest her wedding money in the new endeavor, stating, “COVID-19 forced us to bring live drama outside traditional theater walls. We had to be more creative than ever!”

Hosting the event outdoors is only one part of Law’s efforts to maximize safety and enjoyment of nature through creative theater. Audiences are restricted to just 10 at a time and the hikes are staggered in 15-minute intervals to ensure that people can have room to enjoy the performance safely. Additionally, all participants over the age of 2 must wear masks.

The smaller crowd makes for a safe outing and greatly enhances the impact of the show, which takes about an hour from the start of the hike to its conclusion. A less crowded trail means more time to check out the stunning details of the play’s enormous natural set. In fact, the play was staged to make the most of El Paso County’s nature centers and surrounding parks.

“We were so inspired by the thriving wildlife at Fountain Creek,” said director Tierra Izzo. “It’s a little oasis.”

The theater company notes that the hiking pace is slow and the trail is easy and flat enough for strollers. The play will run for three Saturdays: July 11 and 25 at Fountain Creek Nature Center and July 18 at Bear Creek Nature Center. Wear comfortable shoes and a face mask, and bring water.

July 11, 10 a.m. to 1:45 p.m., Fountain Creek Nature Center, 320 Peppergrass Lane, $15, get tickets at theatreacrossborders.com

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