Welcome to Night Vale Live Show Experience
A few days ago I found myself among the lucky fans of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast, who were presented with an opportunity to go to one of their live shows in Tempe, Arizona. Ah, the joy of finally being able to see many favorite cast members in person, the chance to hear a brand-new episode before it becomes available for download, the haunting feeling of shame for being that annoying person who sits in the dark room of a theater and flashes the phone screen in other people’s faces, trying to spread happiness among twitter followers, even while setting the phone brightness into a minimum and hiding it in the folds of own hoodie in a final attempt to be polite. But what can I say, I’m a reporter at heart, I can’t not report. And on that bright note, I present you with my experience of the Welcome to Night Vale live show.
Said experience, as it usually happens in any sort of large fan gathering, started with standing in a line. The Tempe Center for the Arts Theater was confusing enough with it’s auditorium entrances, that even while being towards the beginning of the line, I ended somewhere closer to the last row of seats, because the line turned out to be leading into the rear section of the hall. Never the less, the hall was small enough to still see everything going on on the stage.
The show started with a performance of Jason Webley, whose song “The Last Song” was featured in the “Pyramid” episode of the show. I have to admit that Jason’s music isn’t something among my usual preferences, but his performance style left me admiring the man himself. He managed to set an easy-going, jocular mood by not only being really funny, but also by actively interacting with the audience, sharing stories and even asking to howl along with one of his songs.
Similar Interaction with the public appeared to be an ongoing theme of the entire show. During Cecil’s performance, the audience couldn’t help but feel involved, that the action was going around them, and that they were exactly in the theater he was describing in the news. It was exactly the trick, which made the experience of being present there in person so much better than listening to the show in more familiar ways. A performing device, which made the plot of the episode seem like something that was happening in real time, the illusion the podcast itself isn’t capable of creating, simply because of the limitations of the media.
The disaster impending upon Night Vale this time, started with the City Council’s decision to make some renovations in the Public Library. A small mistake in safety precautions led to the Librarians escaping their usual habitat to roam free on the streets of the city, the Forbidden Dog Park and a small unremarkable theater, the name of which was not mentioned. The situation left in fear not only simple citizens of Night Vale, who by this point were used to lock every door to their homes and sit shaking in dark corners, but also the City Council, the Sheriff’s Secret Police, and even the Hooded Figures.
Even if each episode of the show is more valued by its writing and play of words, and retelling the plot will never be able to replace an actual experience of listening to it, I still don’t wish to tell you how the plot was resolved, only that it happened in a most unexpected manner. There are two main reasons why I’m trying to keep this article as much spoiler free as possible: first of all, because the Welcome to Night Vale cast is picking up their tour later in March for everyone who lives further away from the West Coast, and there is still a chance you will be among the lucky live show goers. The second reason is because the show is going to appear online, and you will be able to hear it if not live, then in recording.
Even if my overall experience was positive, there was a minor detail, which was upsetting for me. Seeing many reports and pictures from the previous live show, I really hoped to see Dylan Marron, the new voice of Carlos on stage. Dylan joined the cast of the show not so long ago, but has already became a part of the Night Valeian family. Which is why the lack of his presence was disappointing. Still, at one point we had a chance to hear his voice when Cecil called his scientist boyfriend to ask if he knew anything about librarians. Plus, two other characters appeared on stage. One of them was the Faceless Old Woman, played by Mara Wilson, who used the chance to explain the mayoral obligations she was so happily willing to accept, and the second was Luiss Grasco, played by Jason Webley, who came to Cecil’s show to give some musical lessons.
Overall, it was an experience absolutely worth time, money, and blood sacrifices needed to attend the show. The episode was amazing, written with the right amount of creepy and funny to create the atmosphere of the Night Vale at its best. The involvement of the audience opened absolutely new perspectives on the show we knew and liked, giving an opportunity to howl, and scream, and feel as the fictional town came to life for those two hours. If you live somewhere on the way of the March Tour and are still wondering if you should go or not, I honestly advise you to do it. You will never regret it.
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