'Midwayville' To Transform SoMa StrEat Food Park Into Immersive Weekly Carnival

Every Friday evening from now through the end of August, the entire SoMa StrEat Food Park will be transformed into a whimsical interactive carnival: Midwayville.

Midwayville is the latest production of Mystic Midway, a community of artists, technologists, game designers and performers that develops immersive, game-like community events in San Francisco and beyond.

Mystic Midway has appeared at larger events like Masquerotica, Sea of Dreams and Burning Man over the past five years. But this is the first time Midwayville is appearing as a standalone production, said the group's founder and director, Barron Scott Levkoff. 

Levkoff himself has long been a part of immersive communities like the Dickens Fair, Renaissance Faire and Burning Man, and he's spent the past 26 years developing events here in San Francisco. With a passion for creating events "that have a level playing field," he considers Midwayville a form of participatory "social theater" that gives guests "playful but deeply engaging experiences."

Levkoff lives just a few blocks from SoMa StrEat Food Park, and had always seen the location as the perfect carnival venue. When he reached out to inquire about a collaboration, owner Carlos Muela and team simply asked, "When can you start?"

A major component of Midwayville's events at SoMa StrEat Food Park will be a live-action video game. The storyline: The city is in danger of losing its GoldFire, and if that happens, Midwayville's lights will all go out. To help keep the city's GoldFire burning, guests can play games and go on quests to earn StoryBucks—and spend them to make things happen in the game.

Guests of all ages are free to participate as deeply as they'd like; there won't be any clowns grabbing people and forcing them to partake, Levkoff said.  For those who'd prefer to stay on the sidelines, there will be the usual array of food trucks, plus local DJs, side shows, and fortune tellers and goblins to chat with.

More than 50 diverse cast members—including professional performers and up-and-coming community theater actors—will rotate through the weekly performances, Levkoff said. (For those interested in joining the cast, auditions are ongoing.)

The grand opening of Midwayville at SoMa StrEat Food Park is 7pm this Friday, June 24th. After that, shows will be held every Friday evening through August 26th. Ticket prices are being kept at $10-$15 to keep the event affordable to the masses, so the hunt for donations is also continuing. All donations are tax-deductible and "greatly appreciated," Levkoff said.

A portion of the proceeds from Midwayville will also go toward Point of Inquiry, a charitable arts program that helps underprivileged youth create social change through arts, theater and journalism workshops.

The end of summer won't be the end of the fun: Levkoff says Mystic Midway is planning a spooky Halloween show that will run multiple times a week in October, and they're also in talks about bringing the production to Spark Social, the new food truck park in Mission Bay.

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