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Arts and Entertainment

Cruise The Streets Of L.A. In 'Hopscotch,' An Opera Performed In Limos

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In three morning and afternoon performances, the hyper-experimental Industry Opera company premiered its audacious production of Hopscotch on Saturday in 24 limousines driving segments of three discrete circuits along the streets of Boyle Heights, Chinatown and the downtown Arts District.

Hopscotch is the Industry's third full production helmed by company artistic director Yuval Sharon since its inception a few years ago. The most distinctive feature that these three shows have had in common is that they have all taken place simultaneously in different spaces so that no individual audience member could see more than part of the whole live performance going on.

At the beginning of each Hopscotch performance, 24 groups of four audience members meet at different pre-assigned locations in downtown L.A. and enter separate stretch limousines for the beginning of their own distinctive production experience, which unfolds in eight specific 10-minute "chapters." Some of these are performed inside the limo, some outside its windows, others still in various unexpected locations where the passengers exit their vehicles. At the end of each chapter performance the group of four audience members who just watched it is picked up by another limo and whisked away for the next installment as a new spectator quartet pulls up at the curb to take their place.

A single performance ticket lets the audience member experience eight of the 24 total live chapters in Hopscotch (10 additional, animated segments can be viewed online) in non-linear order along one of three routes (designated red, green and yellow). Viewed in numerical sequence, the chapters do collectively relate a narrative story—but no one can view all the chapters in their numerical sequence (and one of them is missing altogether). Along the red route we took, for example, Chapter 24 was followed by Chapter 32, then 17, then 2, 14 and so on. At the production's "Central Hub," a temporary circular outdoor structure in the Arts District, anyone can drop in for free during a performance and watch any or all of the live 24 chapter segments on separate video streams with headphones, but that particular experience is more chaotic than clarifying. Better just to accept that a full experiential overview of Hopscotch is essentially unattainable and engage with the disjointed fragments available in limited context as you go along for the ride—an experience perhaps not unlike our individual journeys through life.

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And the ride really is enjoyable. Beyond the logistical excitement of being transported (literally) from scene to scene in one limo after another around the downtown L.A. area, many of the individual chapter experiences (at least along the red route, which we can vouch for) are viscerally memorable. Our own small group's trajectory began in the total darkness of a limo with blacked-out windows and ethereal piped-in music and ended in the bright light of the L.A. cityscape viewed from the roof of the Toy Factory Lofts—reached via an elevator shared with a singer, two French horn players and half a string quartet. We walked through an unfamiliar park with a young couple in the exuberance of early romantic love, and we dropped off a Dia de los Muertos death-masked figure in a cemetery. Our fellow limo passengers included a beatboxing harpist and a young woman singing in anticipation of her quinceañera. Tragedy and hope shared a single parking lot. And the astonishing 90-minute spectacle was over before we knew it.

Full-price tickets to the final weekend of Hopscotch, November 21-22, go on sale tomorrow (Thursday, November 5) at 10 a.m. There is also a special lottery for reduced-price $25 tickets on the production website each week.