Recently I read a (not-so-recent) post on the Open Objects blog in which the author was reflecting on a visit to the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart, Tasmania. The comments in the post about the experience of using the “O” device in particular prompted me to reflect on my own preference for avoiding the device and exploring the museum’s space and collection unchaperoned.
On my first visit to MONA, shortly after its public opening, I collected and engaged with “O”. It appeared, at that point in time, to be an essential part of the visitor experience. However, on every visit since then, including visits to new exhibitions, I’ve felt as though the “O” would restrict rather than enhance my experience.
Going to Dia:Beacon in December last year was one of the highlights of my trips to New York. I saw the installation pictured below. Such a simple concept but really beautiful when it was on such a huge scale and in such a gorgeous space.
‘Immersive theatre involves placing the audience within the story-world. Rather than having a separated stage and auditorium, everything is the ‘stage’, and the audience are placed there alongside the actors. The audience may be acknowledged by the performers, they may not, they may be led from location to location or left to roam as they choose, but the defining element is that there is no space considered to be outside the story-world. Immersive theatre can be interactive, participatory or playing, but doesn’t have to be.’
Source: ‘What exactly is immersive, interactive, participatory or playing theatre, anyway?’ Playing at Plays
I’m following Russell Anderson’s Playing with Plays blog with interest (and a little bit of jealousy because of the list of interesting shows he’s seeing/will see and review soon!).
The quote above is of particular interest to me because, as my own PhD work progresses (Russell is also a current PhD candidate), I’m becoming more and more focused on questions about boundaries in relation to the audience “in” Sleep No More (what boundaries exist; how they are defined; who can define or challenge them; etc.).