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Pittsburgh Fringe 2024

Sonder or the bus piece


Genre: Contemporary, Dance, Dance and Movement Theatre, Experimental

Venue: Fringe Central


Low Down

An interactive dance piece about passengers on an average bus ride and the complex lives they carry.


When entering the space for Sonder or the bus piece by Rotante, the audience is asked to write their name down and put it into a hat. They are then given a program with words. Simple words, such as CAKE, TETHER, PAPER, and LUGGAGE. The audience is seated around the edges of the venue and not facing the stage, but facing other audience members. A driver staring into a long rearview mirror is in the front of the theater and when you occasionally look at the mirror, you can see the driver’s eyes starting to meet the audience through the rearview mirror. 


As the show begins, the driver begins to dance and give the guidelines of the experience. He will pull a name from the hat. The individual’s name who is called picks the word that represents the next piece, CAKE, LUGGAGE, etc. Each corresponding word relates to the story of a bus rider who we will get to know. The stories range from love loss, domestic abuse, finding one’s self, joy in human nature, missed connections, and loneliness. The stories vary and on the day I went, there was a nice mix of emotional ebbs and flows. The audience participation aspect of the piece makes the show unique because the emotional journey for the audience could vary drastically depending on the way that the words were picked. The finale of the piece is an upbeat, joyful number that brings everyone together in a  celebration of humanity. On the day I went, it followed the piece LUGGAGE which had a similar theme, the joy of humanity. I could see this finale feeling disjointed or undeserved if it followed a darker piece such as COUCH or TETHER. Although, I would also be intrigued to come back and feel that dissonance. 

Each performance was exceptional in execution by performers and creative team: ​Abigail Crane (Assist. Dir), Ben Allen Carter (Assist. Choreo), Ailka Samora, Akisse Morton, Alannah Munrai, Angelee Riall, Amanda Sun, Ben Kucharski, Esai Martinez, Kendal Williams, Julia Polisoto, Mason Sadlier, Matthew Kula, Rose Goodman, Will Forrest.  Some pieces were more movement based, but what brought them together was the authentic humanity each performer portrayed as they moved through their scene and space, connecting with each other and the audience.

During the name draw from the hat, the driver would ask for everyone to ‘beep’ their car horns and even the gesture of a room of people making beeping sounds, was another example of the joy of humanity. When I left the show, at the end of 40 minutes.  I wish it had been longer. I wish I had seen more stories. I would recommend this show for individuals who would like to be swept away in an emotional experience.