Immersive Theatre

Adaptation, Participation, Risk-taking: Creative Interventions In Contemporary Performance

Translator and theatre scholar Dr. Jozefina Komporaly reflects on a day of exchange between the worlds of research, practice, and immersive theatre, with adaptation and interactivity at its core. This article aims to highlight converges and confluences between professional performance practice, academia, and the general public, drawing on an event that situated the day-to-day work of theatre practitioners, aspects of performance criticism, and the notion of work in progress side by side. The venue, however, was not the familiar territory of a break-out space or rehearsal room regularly used by theatre professionals, but the Theatre @ Wimbledon College of Arts, University of...

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Romanian Theatre Today: The Postdramatic Emancipation Of The New Generation

The very moment I step into the building, great expectations surround me. If a measuring device existed for such feelings, the degrees of suspense would surely become visible. I enter each room highly curious and slightly heavyhearted, but, after scanning each room and discovering what is inside, I feel the simple joy of discovery and no longer want to leave. I find there the deserted scene of a feast, with a large table, plates, glasses, wine stains, a tablecloth angrily pulled off; in a different room, a character seemingly descending from another century is buried amongst files behind a...

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How Immersive Theater Makes You Look At Yourself In A New Light

Immersive performances are something relatively new for theater-goers around the globe. What are the mechanics of these shows and what peculiarities make staging them even more difficult in Russia? The creative producer of one of the first immersive theater shows in Russia, The Revenants, Anastasia Timofeeva spoke to Russia Beyond about her experience bringing a new theater format to Russia. What is the main principle of immersive theater? Immersive theater is defined not by the show’s content but by the audience’s role in experiencing it. The audience is no longer a passive viewer but an active participant in the stories...

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Secret Cinema’s Most Recent Production: A Recreated World Of Ridley Scott’s Classic Film “Blade Runner: The Final Cut”

Creating large-scale cultural experiences in abandoned spaces, Secret Cinema fuses film, music, theatre, and installations where audiences explore ultra-immersive worlds in which fiction and reality blur. In 2007, Secret Cinema introduced site-specific, immersive cultural experiences. Breaking films–and recently music albums–into their constituent parts and marrying narratives with play-along action, Secret Cinema is a unique participatory social experience. Fueled by a desire to fill the void left by an over-saturated technological world, it invites audiences to lose themselves in serendipitous, imaginary environments that challenge the way we perceive culture and social interaction. To date, over 520,000 people have attended Secret Cinema’s...

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“Without Damage” Gets A Ground-Breaking Debut At Egypt’s D-CAF

People may or may not be familiar with contemporary art, but it involves no damage to the audience to watch the amazing performance by contemporary dancer Mohamed Fouad and see for themselves what the performance has to say; to construct their own meanings. The 45-minute world premiere contemporary dance show is performed by Mohamed Fouad, designed by Saber El Sayed, and its music is by Ahmed Saleh. Early on in the show, Fouad declares that the performance is not about “the economic crisis, terrorism, or the new rising fascism in the world” or many other pressing issues he mentions....

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“Dark Dunedin: Heaven Looks On” Excavating Layers Of The Real And The Imagined

An audience assembles on the grassy margins of Prospect Park in Ōtepoti/Dunedin, New Zealand, on a late summer Sunday afternoon. Numbering twenty–and a dog–we chat, admire the view, greet friends, and wait for the promenade theatre event that marks the concrete beginning of the doubly-stranded performance project entitled Dark Dunedin: Heaven Looks On. Created by Prospect Park Productions–playwright and theatre-maker Emily Duncan, and producer H-J Kilkelly–Dark Dunedin was launched at the 2018 Dunedin Fringe Festival. The project consists of this one-off promenade theatre event as well as podcasts of three episodes of an audio play, engineered by local community...

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Dramatic Soundscapes

Rather than experimental theatre, it is the realm of dance works that is considered to be much more amenable to music and its ability to guide or transform a live performance. It is as if the body can only respond to the suggestible registers fed to it by soaring melodies or beats. Yet, recent excursions in contemporary dance have attempted to entirely dispense with sound altogether. Sounds of silence Instead, a vast unstarched expanse of silence becomes the ether in which the performers must discover their corporeal alter egos. In Avantika Bahl’s Say, What?, she interacts through gestures with deaf performer...

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“In And Of Itself”: Derek DelGaudio’s Gift Of Encounter

Wow. In & Of Itself, written and performed by Derek DelGaudio for long runs with numerous extensions in Los Angeles and New York, makes clear from the onset that attendees are being asked to go along on a journey. Audience members are instructed to select cards printed with the words “I AM” from a series of possible identity descriptors (I am a Judge, I am a Minimalist, I am a Curiosity, etc.) before entering the theatre. The cards are then collected by the ushers and become part of the performance as they’re placed in a stack on a table...

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“Goodbye, Mr. Yi Sang”: Seoul Performing Arts Company’s New Experiment

Theatre adaptations of novels are on the rise this season. Of course, this is nothing new. Fiction, both classic and modern, have always made up a good chunk of the performing arts repertoire. It would be more precise to say that some of the most successful and discussed productions this season are adaptations of novels. Why are novel adaptations generating such buzz right now? One reason might be because theatre artists have changed their approach to adapting fiction. Previously, adapters were too concerned with preserving the so-called “fragrance,” “beauty,” or “perfection” of the original novel’s language and structure. In...

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Between Panoramas And VR: What Does It Mean To Be Immersed?

Interview with Dr. Robin Curtis, professor of media studies at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg who puts herself between theory and practice with expertise both in filmmaking and in researching the history of immersion. How did you start to become more immersed in the concept and history of immersion? I was already teaching at the university when I got the opportunity to start a PhD. I was interested in autobiographical film and how it constructs a particular fictional self but claims that it is factual. It makes claims about the world and history, about a certain physical place inside history, and invites the viewer...

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Life Isn’t a Beach in “Einstein in the Carpark”

If the avant garde director Robert Wilson died and went to purgatory, Einstein in the Carpark is probably where he’d end up. Part performance, part installation, part misshapen creature stitched together from both forms, this piece by Liu Xiaoyi and his company Emergency Stairs occupies the entire B2-level carpark of the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, the first site-specific piece to be commissioned for the arts centre’s Huayi – Chinese Festival of Arts. Einstein in the Carpark is an explicit nod to Wilson’s groundbreaking “abstract opera” Einstein on the Beach, a 4½-hour piece featuring composer Philip Glass’ pulsating,...

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Giudizio Universale. Michelangelo And The Secrets Of The Sistine Chapel

Over the course of time, the great aesthetic impact of the Sistine Chapel has been testified to with many episodes of admiration; Michelangelo’s masterpiece can also be considered a source of inspiration for new artistic products, offering something worthy of meditation for future generations. Just one example: in the 1910s, the actress Eleonora Duse wanted to realize a silent movie about this very special place in Rome; it was an avant-garde project with high technical complexity but conceived as a good opportunity to improve the cultural level of the audience. Unfortunately, it remained only a dream, but its novelty...

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Immersive “Julius Caesar” at The Bridge Theatre

“Two things only the people anxiously desire—bread and circuses,” said the Roman poet Juvenal. He was describing the decline of the Roman Empire, but the phrase seems wholly appropriate as a description of current affairs. Tax cuts are bread; Donald Trump’s antics are a circus. All over the world, populism strides the national stages, and politicians manipulate the people with false promises and fake news. Meanwhile, intellectuals scratch their heads and blunder into the wrong actions. Yes, this is the world of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, as seen by this venue’s artistic director, Nicholas Hytner, in a thrilling and stimulating...

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“Dutchman” At Secret Theater

One of New York City’s most dynamic young theater companies makes a bold addition to its repertoire with its engaging production of Dutchman, Amiri Baraka’s provocative chamber drama. Dutchman is a companion piece to Albee’s The Zoo Story, another mid-1960’s urban-set dialogue between two strangers featuring a tragic ending. In this case, a Central Park bench is switched out for an MTA subway car. Where Albee’s characters are both white males, Baraka’s play features an African-American man and a white woman. A play so clearly aligned with the turbulent Civil Rights era requires contextural reconsideration; that’s precisely what this...

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“Privacy:” The Impact Of The Digital Revolution On Private Life

Inspired by the Edward Snowden case, James Graham’s Privacy shows us the consequences of living life online where everything we share can be used by governments and corporations that monitor our information without being aware of it. Written by James Graham and Josie Rourke, it was launched in London in 2014, and then it was performed in New York in 2016, with Daniel Radcliffe in the leading role. Nowadays it is performing in Mexico City starring Diego Luna and Luis Gerardo Méndez, who alternate roles, along with eight actors on stage, in a magnificent multimedia production directed by Francisco Franco,...

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Looking Within With “Attempts: Singapore”

Spoiler Alert: If you’re planning to experience the mystery and suspense of Attempts: Singapore, read only after you’ve attended the performance. “She is a terrorist, she is a cultist, she works for sex.” “Who is she?” Like a foggy recreation of a Black Mirror episode, Rei Poh’s Attempts: Singapore begins intriguingly with corporate conglomerate ARC reaching out to the audience for help. We are enrolled to assist in deciphering a databank that consists of fragmented memories of a mysterious woman named Anne, which have been found in ARC’s Artificial Intelligence system J.O.A.N. Inspired by Martin Crimp’s Attempts On Her Life, this promenade piece meshes a...

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“The Grift”: Theatre or Escape the Room?

Theatre as a concept is related to the idea of “play.” After all, scripts are plays and actors play roles. However, it is not often that these words are dissected to reach the idea of “game.” This is why, when arriving at the charming Town Hall Hotel for the site-specific, immersive, interactive production of The Grift, it was surprising to hear the hotel staff commend the play as a “very fun game.” Soon enough, the 50 audience members were given color bracelets that would divide them into different “teams.” This game-like audience division is not unheard of in immersive...

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“Unpermitted Whispers:” Reflections On The Originality Of “Hopscotch” Performance

Yuval Sharon was recently awarded a MacArthur Fellowship “genius grant” for his mobile opera Hopscotch, performed in 2015 in Los Angeles. But before Sharon’s car opera was even conceived, the Iranian environmental performance Unpermitted Whispers (Najvāhāy-e Biejāzeh) awed its passengers/spectators by taking them on a journey through the streets of downtown Tehran. The Iranian female director Azadeh Ganjeh created Unpermitted Whispers in 2010 for the Shakespeare Creative Workshops section of the 13th International Student Theatre Festival and won the top award for her unique and audacious approach in shifting the borders of theatrical space and intimacy. [1] She revived the show in December 2013 for twenty nights. Each evening, from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., the group gave four performances of approximately 50 minutes each. The play is performed in a taxi that is carpooling a driver/actor, an actress, and three passengers/spectators who are simultaneously waiting and are waited on by the performance crew in a nearby café. An usher guides the three spectators...

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“The Jungle” at The Young Vic: New Immersive Docu-Drama

Refugees, it is said, have no nationality—they are all individuals. This new docu-drama, The Jungle, deftly put together by theatre-makers Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson, is a somber account of a couple of recent years of the great European migration crisis, and acts as a testament to the individuality and complexity of the refugee experience. As this co-production between Good Chance theatre company, the National, and the Young Vic opens, in an immersive production steered by directors Stephen Daldry and Justin Martin, it raises various troubling questions about this kind of theatre, most of which are addressed by the...

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Review: “An Italian Christmas Carol” Haunts Past And Future

Toronto, Ontario.  Mae Smith reviews DopoLavoroTeatrale (DLT)’s immersive An Italian Christmas Carol, an interactive theatrical experience for an audience of one person at a time: An Italian Christmas Carol is an immersive theatrical piece not to be missed, and one best understood by experiencing it. Drawing you into the grim reality of a newcomer’s struggle to find a home in a new country and then shaping this experience through the projection of their desires onto the single-person audience, DopoLavoroTeatrale (DLT) delivers a magical and melancholic trip into Christmas for one Italian Immigrant in Toronto. As a solo-audience member, you are invited to...

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