Finding Fantasy at Serenbe Playhouse
By Rachel Turner
word fights! Bad guys! Ziplining! Stealing from the rich and giving to the poor! I had all of the elements for the perfect family day out for my house full of boys. On a beautiful Sunday afternoon we headed south of Atlanta to see the most recent show put on by the Serenbe Playhouse, Robin Hood.
The Playhouse is a theater company that operates on the grounds of Serenbe, a development in Chattahoochee Hills, Ga. One of the company’s distinctions is that all of their shows are performed outside, rain or shine. Location and time of day are dictated by what play you are going to see. Each production has its own set, carved out of the natural surroundings of Serenbe. Some shows even require walking to different locations for different scenes.
Robin Hood and his merry men aside, going to see the mystical land of Serenbe had been on my to do list for a while now. The agri-hood, as it’s been classified, was a place I had read about for several years and was itching to experience for myself. In my mind’s eye it was exactly like M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village, complete with yellow robes, intense quiet, and lots of eating outside on long farm tables, ornately decorated to look authentic and rustic, but were really the product of a run to Hobby Lobby.
I was confident there were no chicken nuggets and no phone chargers anywhere in Serenbe. As it turned out, there were more pressing questions on my mind than just fried foods and tablet sustainability. Was I going to have to wear a yellow robe to watch the play? Would they make us park our cars at the airport and wagon train our way to the property? Would I have to draw blood, change my name to Moonbeam, and swear my allegiance to living like the days of yore, but with granite counter tops and a nearby spa? Oh dear, what if they served Kool-Aid?
Ok, I might be mistaking a green, self-sustaining neighborhood development with a 1970’s cult. I’ll be honest, I do not trust people who don’t seem to need a nearby Target/Starbucks combo.
While we were driving down for a little bit of theater, I was hoping I could catch a glimpse of the rest of the property. I have to admit, my drive through the area and seeing a bit of what it must be like to live in Serenbe can only be described as idyllic. Beautiful, modern homes and walkable shops tucked far away from the noise of I-75, complementing the beautiful Georgia topography. What’s not to like?
Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing sirens 24 hours a day. I love the fact that I’ve been getting Michael Bennet’s cable bill for the last year, despite my efforts to redirect it. However, I would give it all up in a second for the slower pace that overtakes you once you get far enough out of Atlanta that roads with eight lanes are not required. I enjoyed our brief interlude in heaven, but we had a play to catch.
The only person in our car who had been to see a play at Serenbe was my oldest son, who is deficient in elaboration (not unlike most men; send a four page text of the utmost importance, receive “K” in reply). This meant, I had no idea what I was walking into and no words to describe it to my skeptical husband.
Robin Hood’s set was located quite a distance into the woods. Heavy duty bug spray with tick defense should be on your theater going packing list. The set looked like the greatest children’s jungle gym of all time, with platforms built into the trees, ladders, rope swings, and ziplines. It was a little hard to convince my four year old that this was a respectable theater experience and we shouldn’t wiggle out of mommy’s grasp and try to climb the set.
In fact, we never were able to convince him of that so we spent our first Serenbe Playhouse experience standing back in the woods, like the nature people we are not, to prevent our youngest from becoming the cutest little merry man who ever crashed a theater production.
Would I have to draw blood, change my name to Moonbeam, and swear my allegiance to living like the days of yore, but with granite counter tops and a nearby spa? Oh dear, what if they served Kool-Aid?
The theatrical experience at Serenbe is really one-of-a-kind. If you have children who can sit still through an hour long production, I highly recommend it. The actors pull triple duty as parking attendants, ushers, and performers. They are very engaging with the audience and there is usually a play-themed interactive experience for the kids during intermission and/or after the performance. In the case of Robin Hood, it was a fun obstacle course that the kids got to go through.
Overall, I found it to be a really fun, unique, and relatively inexpensive day out for the family. There were a few times the staff reached out to us as we stood in the back of the woods to see if we were okay. When we explained our youngest has autism and doesn’t sit very well, they were trying to troubleshoot a way on the spot to accommodate him and reassure us that he wasn’t bothering anyone. We assured them we were fine as we repeatedly scratched our ankles and wiped sweat from our faces.
This theater company is one to keep an eye on. They do a lot of shows throughout the year, one being The Headless Horseman Experience which is a do-not-miss Halloween show. Check out their current season by going to their website, www.serenbeplayhouse.com
Rachel Turner is a freelance writer and humor blogger. She also runs a traveling murder mystery party business called Make it a Mystery. Georgia born and raised she lives in Woodstock with her husband and two sons. Drop by her blog, www.rachelshumor.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.