Theatre of the Wild, an outdoor production, brings audience on daring journey in Nepal
Theatre of the Wild, a production company started by Fort Lewis College faculty, students and alumni, successfully combines the passion of adventure in the outdoors with a love of theatre.
Lobuje, their second production, tremendously succeeds at bringing the audience into the struggles of overcoming one’s own physical and mental limitations while backpacking nearly 100 miles.
Mike Largent is a former FLC theater professor. Gustavo Palma and Theo Reitwesner, students at FLC; and Sarah Grizzard, FLC alumni. Together they make up the Theatre of the Wild company.
Previously Mike had performed a monologue project called Move: a mountain goat’s monologue. He performed the show at the FLC theatre. The proceeds were used to fund the Lobuje project.
Lobuje is the story of five people ascending a tremendous Nepalese mountain in the Himalayas. With a summit sitting at a cool elevation of 20,075 feet- 6,000 feet higher than anyone in the company had ever climbed before, this was quite a challenging endeavor.
The play uniquely follows each character’s journey, with each of them connecting with the audience through meaningful monologues and relatable challenges.
Each member kept a journal during the trip so they could accurately tell their story upon return.
The actors switched roles fluidly throughout the course of the show. These changes were either stated audibly, or marked with a change in accessory.
The production felt almost like a casual comedy with its lighthearted tone, but the situations portrayed soon became dire.
Near the summit of the real Lobuje peak, one of the company members was evacuated by helicopter in critical condition.
He suffered from high altitude pulmonary edema, or HAPE, a condition in which the lungs fill with fluid. In the play he is carried off-stage by company members, and portrays other characters for a period of the show.
Through strained deep-breaths, Grizzard and Palma huff as they portray their strenuous journey backpacking across Nepal.
“I’ve wanted this since I was four…” Grizzard said. “I’ve seen what I’m made of.” Palma said.
They repeat these phrases for several minutes while scaling Lobuje peak, as though they cannot think of anything else.
The two were, in reality, climbing the back of a white Ford propped 10 feet in the air rigged up with an anchor, ropes and climbing holds. A fold-out portion of the truck becomes the stage for the first half of the show.
Parked in the backyard of 81 Ball Lane, in Durango, the white Ford F7000 becomes the formidable Lobuje peak, the physical and mental pinnacle of the actor’s journey. Though the performers frequently recount their struggles on the journey, and missing home, their desires lay wrapped in the “magic,” according to Reitwessner’s end monologue.
Manipulating their natural resources, the performance was timed with the sunset, bathing their stories in orange-pink light.
Theatre of the Wild’s new and innovative method of storytelling relates to audiences and envelops them with their open worldviews.
More information about Theatre of the Wild can be found on its website, theatreofthewild.com.