Become part of the story

‘Rizing,’ presented by Abby Bender and Jesse Jason, will be a unique performance experience.


It’s the season for things that go bump in the night, but Abby Bender and Jesse Jason and their fabulous fellow performers’ revival of “Rizing” is not a thriller in the scary sense of the word, but one that titillates the senses and imagination. 

This performance piece, which debuted last fall, is back by popular demand. And rightly so. Bender and Jason specialize in immensely inventive collaborations that take place in unusual places rather than on a stage in a traditional theater. 

“Rizing” is performed in a house that has a life of its own, and plays a distinct role in the piece. The home looks and feels like it has a lot of history to it, and is, in fact, integral to the performance, because it inspired the theme and some of the specific stories that are shared with the audience. The narratives, movement, and soundscapes that echo in this unusual setting give visitors glimpses into a timeless world of sorrow, humor, terror, and treats.

Unlike a performance in a traditional black-box theater, “Rizing” is immersive in that guests move throughout the furnished space from room to room, at arms’ length from the performers. The small spaces make for an intimate experience, and, indeed, there are only eight audience members at each show.

“I think this is one of the best pieces we’ve done together because we’ve had so much time to develop it,” Bender says. “As usual, it’s very site-specific. The environment totally plays a role. There’s this collaborator, and it’s a house, and we get to play off of it. Having a space to exist in as you create. We were able to be in the space and inhabit it, learn about it, and have little secrets about it come out as we play with it.”

Bender explains their venue, saying, “It’s a haunted house, but not a ‘Boo!’ one. It’s timeless. When you come in, you’re going to experience its history through the characters you meet.” “The story travels throughout the house. In each room you go to, you get a little bit more information about the puzzle and the characters,” Jason says. “You’re a part of the story in the way we are revealing it to the audience as you move through.” 

With their nontraditional storytelling, you have to listen carefully, and also let your mind make its own connections and conjectures … or just go along for the ride. The intimacy of the space makes you feel part of the piece, engaging you as a participant only through the need to be an active listener and observer.

Bender said that the approximately one-hour performance requires standing and brief stints of walking every few minutes, including navigating steep, narrow staircases. However, there is a special film version of the show that can be made available to anyone unable to attend.

This year’s cast includes Abby Bender, Hannah Burbidge, Molly Coogan, Scott Crawford, Lucy Grinnan, Laura Hall, Jesse Jason, Roberta Kirn, Claire Page, Katie Perez, and Xavier Powers, with guest voices by Justen Ahren, Brooke Ditchfield, Scott Hershowitz, Brian Hall, Rob Myers, Niki Patton, Katherine Reid, and Cassie Tunick, and the video was produced by Danielle Mulcahy. 

“Dance doesn’t get long runs, so it’s just such a treat; to get to do this again is really awesome,” Bender says. 

The approximately one-hour show takes place in a private home in Oak Bluffs, and instructions are sent with reservations. It is strongly suggested for those 13 years of age and up, as the performance requires keen attention and careful listening. Performers will be masked indoors. Audience mask usage is encouraged, but not required. For access to the film version, contact 508-717-2887.

“Rizing” performances on Oct. 21, 22, 28, 29, and 31 are at 6 pm, 7:15 pm, and 8:30 pm; and on Oct. 23, 30, and Nov. 2 at 6 pm and 7:15 pm. Tickets $18. Tickets are limited and reservations are required, so visit