One day in 1981, several Lehigh Valley locals climbed atop a billboard overlooking Route 22 and MacArthur Road in Whitehall Township in an attempt to win a two-bedroom mobile home in what later became a local radio contest that grew into a national news story.
Inspired by those events, filmmaker Zeke Zelker is bringing The WTYT960 Billboard Sitters to the Bucks County Playhouse for a run Oct. 8-11. Tickets are available at the Playhouse website.
The WTYT960 Billboard Sitters follows the struggles of four individuals eager for a change as they compete for a local radio station’s grand prize of “nine-sixty” thousand dollars and a mobile home. The objective is simple: all they have to do is outlast the others while they live on a catwalk in front of a billboard — no matter how long it takes. Josh, a down-on-his-luck laborer; Shelby, a twenty-something artist; Ellen, a widowed stroke victim; and Clark, a wannabe rock star, soon find that long nights, crazed fans, and endless media attention make the contest even more difficult than they ever imagined.
As the contest rages on, the station’s motivations come into question as the contestants find themselves increasingly isolated from the outside world and the ones they love. Are the contestants simply making themselves into attractions in a modern day freak show? Or can they remain real people amid modern media’s ever-present “here and now” portrayals?
The production is an immersive, interactive play that allows audience members to become a part of the story, say producers.
Through social media, the audience will have the opportunity to participate in the action and impact the storyline. The audience is encouraged to download a free mobile app developed by iDreamMachine. The app will allow for seamless communication with the characters throughout the show.
“The WTYT960 Billboard Sitters is about the difference between reality and perceived reality,” said Zelker. “I believe we’re entering a new frontier in storytelling and I’m excited to be a part of it.”