Fall 2016 – proof-of-concept performance
Mid-2017 – pilot version performed
Drexel University’s Frank Lee, PhD, the founder of Drexel’s Entrepreneurial Game Studio who is known for bringing grand visions to reality, most recently on the Cira Centre office building, and Adrienne Mackey, director of Swim Pony Performing Arts, and an adjunct professor in Drexel’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, are planning the spectacle, called “War of the Worlds: Philadelphia,” with support from the William Penn Foundation.
The project mixes game play with site-specific live performances around a narrative that the city must prepare for an impending alien attack. Over the course of several months, Philadelphians will have to work together to decipher clues and perform tasks that will protect areas of the city that are deemed vulnerable to alien attack.
Participants will interact with the game online and in-person, requiring players at home and on the streets to solve puzzles, perform, and interact with elements of the game that will be visible throughout the city. In doing so, the players will unite around a shared experience while exploring and connecting with new regions of the city.
Just as Wells’s first-person narrative gave readers a front seat to the invasion, and Orson Welles’s 1938 radio rendition sent listeners into a frenzy, Lee and Mackey’s interpretation is meant to elicit a visceral reaction that mobilizes a broad group of participants. It merges play and theater on a massive scale representing a unique theatrical experiment in which game players become performers and have the opportunity to change the outcome of the game.