Stage Struck
Immersive theatre invites the audience to join the drama
Play / 21 Aug 2012
The resurgence of interactive theatre is altering the relationship between the creators of live drama and their audiences. While not an entirely new trend, it's been ushered into the modern age with the astounding popularity of Sleep No More. Even as the curtain comes down on that eccentric show this fall, other immersive works are taking their places across the experiential live drama landscape in its wake.
Habit: Habit, an immersive production self-described as “The Real World meets No Exit,” opens this fall not at a theatre but at Manhattan’s Essex Street Market. Director David Levine conceived of the faux cinéma vérité show while transitioning from theatrical performance to visual art exhibitions, a change that motivated him to create a work that’s as accessible for spectators as perusing a gallery. The result is a fully furnished and functional ranch house where three actors will perform for 90 minutes on a continuous loop for eight hours a day. Though the dialogue stays the same, behavior is improvised—meaning roaming spectators may see anything, and everything, from cooking to showering.
Then She Fell: Third Rail Projects will lead audiences on a trip down the rabbit hole this fall with Then She Fell, an immersive theatre production inspired by the life and writings of Lewis Carroll. The show, opening in October in the outpatient wing of what was once Brooklyn’s Greenpoint Hospital, is much like Sleep No More in that it spans a series of rooms for patrons to explore. The performance encourages audiences to discover “hidden" scenes and “secret” places throughout a maze that mirrors the unconventional narrative structure of the story. Custom-blended elixirs, served in “Drink Me” vials that complement the show’s hallucinatory vibe, round out the multisensory experience.
Muncitor: Not all audience members at last month’s production of Muncitor: All Workers Go to Heaven got to see the show. That’s because the social experiment taps some attendees to be in it. Staged at London’s Theatre Royal Stratford East, the participatory work pre-selects a small group—all guests must fill out an online questionnaire in advance—to take on roles in this exploration of hierarchy and abuse of power. The improvised drama occurs in a factory setting where one person is assigned to be the boss, two are supervisors, and the others are workers. Attendees who remain in the audience then bear witness to a thrillingly unpredictable Big Brother-style spectacle.
©The Intelligence Group