Reading Theater Project and JCWK Dance Lab return to In Nature’s Studio

Live performances in the Reading Public Museum Arboretum around the theme The Occult.

The Reading Theater Project and JCWK Dance Lab have announced the return of In Nature’s Studio: THE OCCULT, an outdoor performance event at the Reading Public Museum Arboretum.

The landscape and walkways throughout the Arboretum will become micro-stages where actors, dancers, and musicians simultaneously perform, some spanning the 90 minutes of the performance event and shorter pieces being performed multiple times. All performances use the park setting and The Occult exhibit as inspiration and are appropriate for all audiences. The audience can wander the path on their own or sign up for a guided tour.

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Inside the museum, Picturing the Occult will take viewers on a mystical journey through the supernatural. Since the beginning of our evolution, human beings have believed in the supernatural. Ancient humans, unable to rationally explain and measure certain phenomena, began to believe in hidden agents to understand the world around them. Eventually, these beliefs evolved to include entities like gods and goddesses, spirits, demons, angels, monsters, and witches, all of which could impose their will on the world.

Photo courtesy of Reading Theater Project.

Today, we call such things “occult,” which, in its broadest sense, refers to anything that is unknown. The word comes from the Latin occultus, meaning clandestine, hidden, or secret. In its modern iteration, occult practices center on harnessing these hidden powers and bending the laws of nature to benefit oneself. These practices encompass several disciplines; including magic, spirituality, alchemy, astrology, and divination, all of which are considered pseudosciences today.

This exhibition will explore the roots of these practices through their depictions in works on paper throughout history, including manuscript pages, etchings, and engravings, all taken from The Museum’s permanent collection.

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“In Nature’s Studio invites the audience to look at a familiar public space, the Arboretum, in a new way, and to be an audience member in a new way, by walking rather than sitting. Reading Theater Project’s mission includes taking creative risks, and we love to see audiences of all ages trying something new,” said Vicki Haller Graff, Artistic Director of the Reading Theater Project.

This performance features new work by theater artists Vicki Haller Graff (Undine of the Arboretum), Andrea Hart and Lady Strongman (The Medium), and Rob Weidman (Getting Familiar with Familiars). RTP Music Director and composer Chris Heslop will debut a new piece for the Tempered Brass Trio: Shari Gleason-Mayrhofer (French horn), Jeffrey Wohlbach (trumpet), and Daniel Neuenschwander (trombone). Jill Haley (oboe/English horn) and Dana Cullen (piano) will be playing Jill’s National Park compositions.

JCWK Dance Lab (Warchal-King, Cady Monasmith, Woosoon Kim, and Arielle Ridley) will present two dances from a longer work, Dark Adaptations, and Richie Maldonado and his Street Connects Crew will perform their signature Hip hop & elemental style dance, using the environment to influence the movement. The production is directed by Joel Richard Gori and Jessica C. Warchal-King, with support from Kayla Laucks and Stacy Laucks.

The Reading Public Museum Arboretum is located at 500 Museum Road, Reading, Pennsylvania. The performance will take place Sunday, August 21, 2022, from 5:30pm to 7pm, and is free to attend.

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