‘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.).
Russell’s definition of immersive theatre suggests that, in this kind of work, ‘there is no space considered to be outside the story-world’. I think here that Russell is talking about tangible physical space rather than a broader, more abstract meaning … Regardless, I’m stewing on it a little bit because it feels like a productive way of thinking about it and it’s helping to both focus some questions I already had and generate some new ones … Questions like:
- Considered to be outside the story-world by who?
- Is the story-world only defined in terms of the physical space that it’s presented/performed in? (i.e. the ‘walls’ of the space are the ‘walls’ of the story?)
- Another consideration in terms of the inside/outside of the story-world is time. Does the story-world only exist during it’s scheduled performances? What happens when someone visits that space outside of those times?
- In terms of SNM what happens to objects that are part of the story-world when they are removed from the physical space? (Masks, gifts/tokens from characters, etc.) Do the boundaries of the story-world somehow expand to still encompass those objects when they are removed?
I’m not sure right now whether all of these questions (and their answers, if they have them) will end up being central to my thesis … they’re kind of foggy shapes in the darkness of my mind at the moment… but I’m grateful for anything and anyone that prompts me to ask new or newly focused questions. So, thanks for the thought-provoking blog Russell! I hope there will be lots more :)