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War of The Worlds

January 26, 2016

January 26, 2016 — The definitively seminal tale of alien invasion, H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds will become larger than life in an interactive art and gaming event connecting residents from across Philadelphia. The collective-building experience, designed by Dr. Frank Lee, Digital Media professor, and Adrienne Mackey, Swim Pony Performing Arts director and adjunct Theatre professor, mixes in-person and online game play with site-specific public performances. The project, which will have Philadelphians working together to decipher clues and perform tasks in order to protect areas of the city deemed vulnerable to alien attack, is made possible by generous support from the William Penn Foundation.

The original 1938 War of the Worlds radio broadcast simulating an alien invasion near Grovers Mill, New Jersey, was convincingly performed on air by Orson Welles and The Mercury Theatre, causing widespread national panic. In Lee and Mackey’s contemporary reinvention, Philadelphia’s streets will be transformed into a collective puzzle to be solved as the city prepares for an impending alien invasion.

“This interactive art event will bring cultural experiences beyond traditional venues and reach new and more diverse audiences through the use of gaming and technology,” said Shawn McCaney, Director of Creative Communities and National Initiatives at the William Penn Foundation, which is supporting the planning and prototyping for the project.

“As an artist, my goal is always to remind audiences of the power of live artistic expression. A project like this tells a story that connects us as humans and takes us some place beyond our everyday lives,” Adrienne Mackey said.

A pilot version of War of the Worlds will be performed mid-2017. The large-scale project is being undertaken with assistance from Dr. Jichen Zhu, Digital Media professor and Arianna Gass, program manager of the Entrepreneurial Game Studio, which Dr. Lee directs.

“No one puzzle can be solved and no site can be saved without the cooperation of other players online and around the city,” Dr. Lee said. “We see this as a fun way to bring theater and games to a younger, more diverse audience of Philadelphians.”

Click here for more information about Drexel’s Entrepreneurial Game Studio. To learn more about the William Penn Foundation, which supports education, sustainability and creative and civic initiatives, click here.