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Provided by Sackerson
Fina Posselli, left, and Andrew Robertson in Sackerson's new play "Hindsight," which is set on the streets of downtown Salt Lake City.

SALT LAKE CITY — As Fina Posselli approached a crosswalk downtown, she saw some people she knew walking toward her. The friends noticed her, and started to wave.

“Fina! What are you doing? Hey! Over here!” they yelled. Posselli ignored them and walked right past.

“I had to send them an apology later,” she recalled.

It was Possellli’s first night in “Hindsight,” a new play by Sackerson Theatre that’s set on the streets of downtown Salt Lake City. Posselli and her co-stars stay in character as they visit various downtown restaurants and board public transit. Each show has an official audience of only six people, who follow the actors, listening to them and an accompanying musical score through headphones. Audiences can watch from a distance, or from really, really close.

“There were some people that would sit in the booth with us at a restaurant,” Posselli explained. “They want to be right in your face.”

A play like “Hindsight” is pretty atypical, in more ways than one. Beyond the obvious (location, audience size, etc.), there’s the play’s actual story, which rolls out in reverse chronological order. There’s also the way it was written. According to its playwright, Morag Shepherd, the story was conceptualized by fellow Sackerson member Alex Ungerman, with all the locations decided before the script was actually written.

“We went at it backwards,” Shepherd said. “We created the show, and then we wrote it.”

Given the rest of its peculiarities, Shepherd said she kept the story’s narrative fairly straightforward. “Hindsight” follows a woman falling in and out of love with two different men — one a more traditional Utahn, the other an outsider who’s unfamiliar with Utah’s cultural and religious norms — portrayed in a series of conversations in restaurants, buses and TRAX trains.

The story, Shepherd said, is tailor-made for Utah audiences, in both its setting and the subjects its characters discuss.

“You kind of get this romantic experience while viewing the streets of Salt Lake in a different way,” she said.

Provided by Sackerson
Alex Woods, left, and Fina Posselli in Sackerson's new play "Hindsight," which is set on the streets of downtown Salt Lake City.

Shepherd said she wrote each scene at the scene’s actual location. While writing, she wondered what kind of things she’d want to hear if she was eavesdropping on a couple. What kind of conversations would be engaging but believable? How does a play like this remain unassuming to people walking by, while still feeling unique to its audience?

The end result, Posselli said, is a story that feels quite natural. As an actress, she doesn’t have to reach folks sitting in the very back of a dark theater this time.

“We get to whisper in each other’s ears, which you never get to do onstage,” she said. “You don’t have to pretend as much. You’re just existing.

“It helps a bit, honestly, to know that people aren’t really paying attention,” she added. “It helps me get in my headspace a bit more, because I feel like I’m being a very natural human, just like the people around me.”

Provided by Sackerson
Fina Posselli, left, and Andrew Robertson in Sackerson's new play "Hindsight," which is set on the streets of downtown Salt Lake City.

Of course, doing a play among a city of unknowing participants brings its surprises. Homeless people often interrupt the actors, or downtown events impede the play’s normal route. While audiences are watching, though, the actors remain in character.

Shawn Saunders, who currently directs the play, was first in “Hindsight” as part of its original cast. The show’s unpredictable elements are a challenge, but integral to the whole experience. As an organization, Sackerson’s M.O. is to immerse audiences in new environments. For them, it isn’t just about helping bold actors, but bold audiences too.

“The more that you make things that are external to the show a part of the show, without disrupting the story, the more fun it is for the audience,” Saunders said. “And most of the time, the audience doesn’t really notice that it wasn’t part of the show, which is sort of the magic of the immersion of the piece.”

Luckily, “Hindsight” also has an usher and various audiovisual staff members on hand. These folks help field (and deflect) questions or concerns from various passers-by. Shepherd said she’ll occasionally usher the show, which becomes as valuable a vantage point as those attending the show.

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“It’s interesting that you’re watching them watching the action,” she said. “And when you have the headphones on, you’re kind of aware that other people are watching you also, so it’s an interesting dynamic that way. It draws a lot of attention, but I don’t think unwanted attention.”

Provided by Sackerson
Alex Woods, left, and Fina Posselli in Sackerson's new play "Hindsight," which is set on the streets of downtown Salt Lake City.

If you go …

What: “Hindsight”

When: Through July 28

Where: Locations throughout downtown Salt Lake City

How much: The run is currently sold out, but interested patrons can contact the theater for possible availabilities.

Web: sackerson.org

Phone: 801-613-0582