Gayle Pazerski is a freelance writer, actor, and playwright.
The mission of Bricolage Production Company is quote succinct: "to immerse artists and audiences in adventurous theatrical experiences that foster connections and alter perceptions." Simple enough. But what does that mean? To give an equally simple answer, the creative team at Bricolage wants you to leave their productions feeling different than you did when you arrived. Seeing a show at Bricolage is not meant to be an exercise in remaining trapped behind the fourth wall as a static audience member. Not to worry: this doesn't mean you'll be dragged onstage and forced to perform, but you will be invited to see yourself in the work, making connections with the actors, the material, and the other audience members around you. Bricolage was founded in 2001 by Artistic Director Jeffrey Carpenter, joined shortly thereafter by Producing Artistic Director Tami Dixon. In addition to mounting numerous full-length productions, the company has also exercised its commitment to new work with the In The Raw play development program, and spearheaded the extremely popular Midnight Radio series -- a live radio theater experience, complete with actors reading radio plays complimented with a wide array of Foley effects, commercial breaks for sponsors, and musical guests. Audience members can watch the magic unfold live before their eyes, or choose to close their eyes and experience the show as an authentic, audio-only radio broadcast experience. Bricolage has recently added the WordPlay series to its regular lineup, inviting actors, writers, and everyday people to read their entertaining and intimate true stories to the audience, while a DJ accompanies the tales with live music. WordPlay has boomed with popularity since its debut, and the shows are often sold out well before the performance dates. Bricolage is regularly seeking submissions for WordPlay, and those interested in having their stories considered for an upcoming WordPlay show can find all the details on Bricolage's website. In 2012, Bricolage produced the world premiere of STRATA, a unique, immersive theatre experience that was named Top Production of the Year by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Tribune Review, and was featured on the cover of American Theatre Magazine. The company followed up this extremely successful project with the immersive productions of Ojo, Saints Tour, and the forthcoming Enter the Imaginarium -- a thrilling, escape room-style experience created in conjunction with Pittsburgh's Scarehouse, an annual, nationally-recognized haunted house attraction. Bricolage views their immersive experiences as a furthering of their overall dedication to chipping away at the fourth wall, sending audience members on an adventure designed to alter their perceptions. Though much of their regular programming is most appropriate for adult audiences, Bricolage has plenty to offer when it comes to the 18 and under crowd. Midnight Radio, Jr. provides the same highly entertaining radio play experience tailored to a younger crowd. Foley workshops are also regularly available before or after the show to give kids a chance to make their own sound effects magic. Bricolage also brings its Midnight Radio, Jr. workshops to local middle schools and high schools, sending teaching artists into classrooms to guide students through the experience of writing, rehearsing, and performing a radio play based on topics they're currently studying. Bricolage also recently debuted an innovative but sensory-sensitive immersive theatre experience for those with autism spectrum disorders and sensory sensitivities. Welcome to Here was developed over a series of months with the help of members of the ASD community to create a safe but enchanting space in which families could explore a magical forest and meet its friendly inhabitants at their own pace. Bricolage has an ongoing commitment to accessibility for all audience members: Midnight Radio performances feature Braille and large print programs, and audio descriptions are often available upon request. Bricolage's permanent space at 937 Liberty Avenue is wheelchair friendly, with accessible restrooms and wheelchair seating, with companion seating available with advance notice. Patrons with specific accessibility needs are encouraged to contact Bricolage in advance with any concerns--especially when it comes to their off-site, immersive productions--so that the staff can provide the proper accommodations. The Bricolage team believes they have a responsibility as artists to foster compassion, empathy, and genuine connections with their work. The word Bricolage itself means "making artful use of what's at hand," and that is precisely what the creative team at Bricolage achieves so masterfully: blending the art, artists, and audience at hand to create a truly unique and impactful experience.