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🗣 Locals to Know: Meet the founders of RealTime Interventions interactive theater company

A man and woman lie among many stuffed panda bear toys.

Thanks for talking to The Incline! Tell our readers a bit about RealTime Interventions.

Thank you for asking! We’re a performance company that creates all-original theater experiences and public events about real people and real places. Most of our work is community-fueled, meaning we craft plays for and with various communities in Pittsburgh and beyond. We’ve created theatrical experiences with female Afghan refugeesPittsburgh childcare providers working during COVIDthe residents of Braddock, PA and the people of Beirut, Lebanon. For each project, we’ve partnered with a wide array of arts and community organizations, from City of Asylum to ForGoodPGH to refugee resettlement agencies to neighborhood organizations. With each show, we bring people from different walks of life together to tell stories that matter to them. Our goal is to create compelling, complex theater while helping audiences feel more connected with each other and with people or groups they may have felt different from in the past. That’s why our tagline is “Real People. Real Stories. RealTime.”

What are your roles within the organization?

Rusty and I are the founders and co-artistic directors. We do it all, from researching and writing the shows to directing to production. “Production” in our case can mean anything from finding childcare for Afghan refugees, to seeking out the best female rock drummer in Pittsburgh, to shipping boxes of art objects created by Pittsburgh makers to Beirut Lebanon during a humanitarian crisis… it’s always an adventure!

What are some of your upcoming shows and events?

Our newest series, “People of Pittsburgh,” opens April 7 at City Theatre’s Hamburg Studio! “People of Pittsburgh” is a series of theatrical portraits of extraordinary, ordinary Pittsburghers. These are not “Pittsburgh-famous” folks; they’re everyday people who we’ve met and find fascinating here in the ’Burgh, and in 2023, we’re going to open up nominations for “People of Pittsburgh” to the public! The shows are created through collaborations with artists working in wildly different mediums. Our first show in the series is “People of Pittsburgh: The Alchemist of Sharpsburg,” about Candra, a Hindu-practicing, black-metal-listening lifelong gamer and philosopher with multigenerational roots in Sharpsburg. Rusty Thelin and ceramicist Emmanuelle “Manu” Wambach have created this one, and like Candra, they’re lifelong gamers. So the show is also a game in which audience members can play to unlock stories from Candra’s life—and get one of Manu’s handmade gamepieces to take home.

Outside of your work with RealTime Interventions, what keeps you busy?

Molly: I love to read about everything under the sun; right now I’m reading the Farmer’s Almanac and a history of witches in Pennsylvania. I also love to cook (I’m one of those people that doesn’t use recipes much, with alternating triumphant and dismal results).

Rusty: I am a total game nerd, so I’m often playing games or reading game rules manuals, and dreaming about running that perfect game session.  The rest of my time is spent researching whatever topic may become the subject of our next show!

Molly and Rusty hold up a poster from an Ibsen production.

Where are we likely to find you out and about in the ‘Burgh?

Pittsburgh’s restaurant game is on point, so we’re often checking out a new eatery in a neighborhood we haven’t been to. We also love to take advantage of Pittsburgh’s beautiful parks and green spaces, so if the weather is nice you might see us perambulating around Frick Park, deep in discussion about whatever shiny new idea we’re obsessed with at the moment.

How can our readers support RealTime Interventions?

We’ve been called the best theater company in town that nobody’s heard of, so we’re eager to see new faces in our audience!  Now that we’re returning to live performances on April 7, come on out and see what the buzz is about.  We also count on donations and volunteer partners to do what we do— support us at our website (realtimeinterventions.org) or by becoming a patron on Patreon!

Interested in being featured and want to share your own cool project in the ‘Burgh? Send an email to [email protected] with the subject line “TI Locals to Know 2022” and you just might  see yourself in a future newsletter.