‘Aptly, the entry ticket to the Port Arthur site is a playing card. Each visitor is given a one at random and invited to ‘find the convict’ who corresponds with it.’


I wonder what immersive theatre fans make of sites / experiences like the Port Arthur Historic Site? I think it feels too close to home for me – the tragedy and weight of the history there – I think I’d find it hard to slip into the receptive, playful mindset that’s my norm for shows like Sleep No More and Then She Fell. Or, if I did, I think I’d feel guilty about doing so.

I remember my first trip back to Tasmania after the Port Arthur massacre. I was on the boat from the mainland to Tasmania and as we neared land large groups of passengers (and me) stood looking quietly out the windows. For a minute or two there was no excited – end of a long trip, start of a holiday or return home – buzz. Just quiet. I wouldn’t have known what to say then. I don’t know what to say about it now.

I had been to the Port Arthur Historic Site prior to those events and I recall being uncertain how to respond then as well. I was getting a lot of ‘entertainment’ cues from the Site and I remember feeling awkward because I didn’t know how to balance enjoyment of that theatre with a consciousness and respect for the Site’s history.

Actually, I’m feeling a bit like that again now because this is not where I meant to go with this post. I was just interested in the entry ticket / playing card cross-over between Port Arthur and Sleep No More and the general direction that heritage and museum spaces are taking (which is explored in the RealTimeArts article linked above).

Too close to home

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