In the vein of the recent (and controversial) Sleep No More show, Under the Poppy is daring, sumptuous and highly interactive theater. Although the show has used both the Detroit Institute of Arts and a Woodbridge Victorian Mansion as its backdrop, it originally sprang from author Kathe Koja’s novel. “The main story is very simple,” Koja says. “It’s two people falling in love, boy meets boy, and they go off on the road with a puppet show and break apart through jealousy and heartbreak… introduced into the mix is a girl who is sister to one and kind of hopelessly in love with the other.”
Augmenting the straightforward plot, this book is all about scene and atmosphere… and it translates brilliantly on stage. Starting with a novel that’s already hyper-theatrical in scope, Koja maintains “the trajectory from the book to the stage was ameliorated by the fact that it involves puppetry.” But although she draws on elements of traditional theater for the book, Under the Poppy performances are anything but. “I want people to come into a Victorian space that they are free to explore, and the show will be happening around you… with live music and with the performers and with your drink of your choice,” Koja explains. In the Woodbridge house performances, the show was going on in several rooms simultaneously… and it was left to the audience members to choose which storyline they’d like to (literally) follow.
Koja is still in the process of securing funding and securing a location for the next installation of Under the Poppy, but she expects to start up again late fall. In the meantime, to keep up with the show or find out how you can get involved, you can find Under the Poppy on Facebook, the website, or email Kathe at firstname.lastname@example.org.