Imagine a world on the brink of collapse. Well, for many of us, a world on the brink of collapse may not feel that far-fetched.
Ironically, two San Diego award-winning artists are exploring that world and what may happen in a production that took years in the making. Bridget Rountree and Iain Gunn of Animal Cracker Conspiracy will unveil its latest production, “The Society of Wonder” this month as part of the La Jolla Playhouse’s Digital Without Walls series.
The six-part series of videos available throughout the month tell the story of a group of visionaries living in a troubling world.
“‘The Society of Wonder’ grew out of many years of research and attempts to create a performance about a co-creatable secret society that intends to help join diverse individuals together to do good in the world,” Rountree said. “And this iteration of the project would not have been made if it were not for the pandemic. There is an absurdity to the tale that feels like a response to the current moment.”
Rountree said she hopes “The Society of Wonder” encourages viewers to think.
“Our greatest hope is to spark folks’ imagination and curiosity,” Rountree said. Iain and I both believe in the power of creativity to challenge systemic inequities. We believe these inequities come from a particular way of thinking; how we think shapes the way we live, how we speak, and what we do. The Society of Wonder aims to demonstrate how we are all interconnected, human and nonhuman alike; this in turn allows for empathy, healing, and new ways of living to be possible. The art of puppetry right now feels very timely.”
In fact, Rountree said she and Gunn are busier than ever despite the challenges that have risen with the pandemic.
“We are strangely busier than ever, with people wanting and needing art right now, not just as a respite from current happenings, but as a way to see their way into different systems of value and meaning-making,” Rountree said. “We desperately need a diversity of ideas, ways of being, and an ability to hold many differing perspectives and meaning in order to create a sustainable future for us all.”
Aside from the new series, the couple is spending time developing a puppet-making class for digital learners. They’ve also spent time reflecting on current times.
“We are incredibly inspired at this time, as well as feeling sad, frustrated, and financially precarious,” Rountree said. “At the same time, the troubles we are living through offer, through the slow collapse of previous norms, the possibility to create new structures, new systems, and
new ways of living.”
For more information about Animal Cracker Conspiracy or to support the artists, go to
“The Society of Wonder” is running throughout the month of September online at lajollaplayhouse.org/wow-goes-digital/.