For four nights in March, the Brooklyn Lyceum will be transformed into an infamous coal mining town with a haunted past, thanks to Ugly Rhino Productions, a booze-infused theater company with a pentient for putting on weird shows with tailor-made cocktails to match.
“Centralia: A Nice Place to Live,” which opens on March 2 and runs every Friday night for the following four weeks, traverses the lives of nine fictional characters from a real-life ghost town in Pennsylvania that caught fire more than 50 years ago and continues to burn. Throughout the evening, theater-goers will visit six different “houses,” set up inside a warehouse space at the Brooklyn Lyceum, each of which occupied by a different character who will deliver an interactive monologue. Additionally, there will be six artisinal cocktails, meant to correspond to each scene and character, that audience members can redeem with tearable tickets printed in their programs.
“The space is this gorgeous raw space that used to be an old bath house, and we felt like we wanted to do something industrial, about a coal mining town, about Americana, and we started researching,” said Ugly Rhino Productions Artistic Director Nicole Rosner, who devised, researched, wrote and directed the production, along with her three partners. “The minute we started reading about it was so extremely fascinating. Mostly the fire and the displacement of everyone, and it wasn’t until we visited Centralia that we understood a whole other side of the story.”
The production is loosely based on a town situated ontop of an anthracite coal vein called Big Buck Vein, that in 1962 caught fire. Because of a network of makeshift mines and holes in the earth, the fire was sucked underneath the ground, and to this day, continues to burn. The play will explore themes of eminent domain, social strife, environmental disaster, small-town ethos and the fire that tore a community apart — all while theater-goers get lightly toasted.
“We are all interested in the same things — a social environment surrounding performance, events that are all-encompassing in terms of theater, music, and a party “vibe”, as well as high-quality theater that appeals to a broader audience,” Rosner said. “People can go through the space at their own pace and in any order, and they’ll be making connections. It’s a choose your own adventure performance.”
“Centralia: A Nice Place to Live,” at the Brooklyn Lyceum [227 4th Ave. at President Street in Park Slope, (718) 857-4816]. March 2nd, 9th, 16th, and 23rd, 8 pm. Tickets, $25, includes six specialty cocktails. For info, visit www.uglyrhinonyc.com.