Image courtesy of Rio Reveals

Theatre Alumna Mikhael Tara Garver '10 Creates 'Rio Reveals' for River L.A. Fundraiser

BY Amanda Breen, December 1, 2020

Theatre alumna Mikhael Tara Garver ’10 created Rio Reveals, a series of immersive entertainment experiences that will raise funds for River L.A., a nonprofit dedicated to revitalizing the Los Angeles River and encouraging community engagement with it. 


For twenty years, Garver has worked at the intersection of immersive and experiential entertainment. In an interview with Los Angeles Magazine, Garver said, “Fundamentally, I had been the broken record in the experiential space that’s been saying, guys, experiential is not just a pop-up. It’s not just an immersive show. It’s not just a podcast that you can listen to and walk with.” When COVID-19 began to wreak havoc on the performing arts community in March, many artists turned to innovative modes of storytelling. 


Garver had already been considering her next steps in the experiential entertainment sphere. Over the summer, Garver connected with River L.A. board member Krisztina “Z” Holly. The pair began brainstorming ways to meet their primary goals: raising funds for the River L.A. and using the power of story to get riverside communities excited about what comes next, safely. 

Garver and Holly came up with Rio Reveals. The first installment in the series, Firefly Nights, premiered in late October. It was a car experience that utilized song, dance, and shadow puppets to introduce the Rio Reveals world. Another experience, Rio Records, will allow audiences to go on a 70-minute digital, interactive journey in the comfort of their own homes. 


“Experiential, at its best, it’s both extraordinary and it brings to life the magic that we don’t always see in the world,” Garver continued in the Los Angeles Magazine interview. “And you don’t necessarily have to leave the house for that.”


Garver is an experiential designer, creator, and leader for brands and social impact. Her original experiential creations have been commissioned by national arts organizations such as American Repertory Theater, The Kennedy Center, The Goodman Theater, Montclair New Work Initiative, and The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. 


She was the Head of Experiential Entertainment at Category41, the Managing Artistic Director of Woodshed Collective, and the Founder and Artistic Director of Chicago Uma Productions. She was a director on American Repertory Theater’s Production of Sleep No More, an associate producer for Professor Anne Bogart and SITI Company, and is currently an advisor for Starfish Accelerator. She most recently founded 13exp, the first original content experiential entertainment studio facilitating social change. 


Garver has built award-winning experiences for AMCTelevision, The National Park Service, Bloomberg, Serino/Coyne, BBDO, Hormel, Tentrr, and Smirnoff. She has also done work for high-level brands like IDEO, Facebook, and Virgin. Garver was the Creative Director for the band Great Caesar. She created the advanced program in Making, Directing, and Leadership for NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and has spoken and taught on arts and democracy at many universities, some of which include North Carolina School of the Arts, Yale, Columbia, Harvard, DePaul, and Montclair State. 


Rio Reveals will run through January 17, 2021. Tickets can be purchased here.

Image courtesy of Rio Reveals