This isn’t immersive (or is it?)

I love quick reaction ‘before and after’ style video reviews. In this example the reviewers say some interesting things about what is (or isn’t) ‘immersive’.

I think that if I’d seen this performance (I haven’t and I know nothing at all about it beyond what’s said in this review) I might have had a similarly disappointed immediate reaction. Then again, watching the review I wonder if the production has actually succeeded in putting this audience in the position of the fictional audience (they’re frustrated, they don’t know what’s going on, etc.). One of the reviewers does mention that the criticisms that are leveled at the ‘artist’s’ work in the production could equally be leveled at the production. So there’s some kind of mirroring that’s going on there. Do you have to believe you’re immersed in order to be immersed?

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/zF7nn6r52ik?rel=0

2 thoughts on “This isn’t immersive (or is it?)”

  1. I also have no experience with this show other than this video. I was interested in their list of things that “aren’t immersive”… because they can be, just not in-and-of-themselves: so if you’re watching a play in which the ‘action’ occurs on this traverse stage, and you’re essentially separated from it, yeah I’d say that’s not immersive. However, I do often wonder if people set a particular definition of immersive (often based on the Punchdrunk model) which HAS to include being able to choose actors to follow, or to roam around a large set, or one-on-ones, and so on.

    So, for example, I went to The Development recently: that had traverse/thrust staging, and the performers spoke directly to the audience, and they pointed at us, and they asked us to do particular things at particular times… was it immersive? Absolutely. Why? Because we were very much inside a performance world where these things were completely contextually correct: we were guests at a sort of self-actualization cult ritual. So we definitely existed WITHIN the world of the piece – even though we were mostly stood or sat in one place, and watching.

    It sounds like the show these guys are reviewing did not have that aspect, but it’s another indication that the word “immersive” is just becoming useless – undefined as it is, it seems to mean something different to everyone, and now that it’s become the buzzword de rigour absolutely every performance with just a touch of choice or agency (choose where to sit!) gets slapped with the term. But as there’s no consensus on what it means, or where the boundaries lie, I suspect one person’s immersive is another’s frustration…

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    1. I agree – I think both the ‘contextual correctness’ of what happens and the expectations you bring to a performance re what ‘immersive’ will mean are really important. I’m going to an ‘immersive’ show here in Hobart next week that I’m feeling quite confused about because it seems like the ‘official’ promotional material (e.g. the website), tie-in promotions (media interviews) and the direct correspondence with the audience (the ‘wear comfortable shoes’ email) are all sending me slightly different messages about what to expect. So, I have to keep reminding myself to just let what will be be and that the production may well be packaging what they are trying to do in different ways for different audiences. Oh, to be a blank slate again :)

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