Revitalizing & Reinventing Immersion Theater

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Castmember John Sorensen-Jolink in a vintage room in 'Sleep No More.' Castmember John Sorensen-Jolink in a vintage room in "Sleep No More." (© Alick Crossley)

Few sources of entertainment these days require or expect a passive audience. Whether viewers are tweeting during a television program, or texting to vote for a contestant, it’s evident that we like to feel involved.

Theater, one of the oldest forms of entertainment, is again embarking on this tradition of immersion. While interactive theater isn’t new, it is growing in popularity as audience members are encouraged to drink, socialize or take part in a production without being dragged on stage.

This sort of immersion keeps theaters economically viable, and it's also relevant to folks who are accustomed to being connected and engaged at all times.

Charlie Herman, the business and economics editor for Takeaway co-producer WNYC, explains the latest developments in immersion theater.



Charlie Herman

Produced by:

Ellen Frankman


T.J. Raphael

Comments [1]

Aaron Lish from Bend, OR

There is a conceptual / political element to the use of participation in theater / art that should also be brought into this discussion. When we look outside of Europe and N. America, there is a century-long history of participatory art and theater as being a gesture toward empowering the public (Russia's post-revolution avant-garde theater, Augusto Boal's Invisible Theaters in South America in the 1960s and 70s, participatory art in Argentina in the 1960s, and more recently Tonia Bruguera's "Arte de Conducta" in Cuba and Ai Wei Wei's "Remembrance" in the 2000s). A fun, new project designed to empower the participants while also critically analyzing society and culture that uses social media (rather than big budget spectacle like "Rain Room" mentioned in today's show) is "Do It DIY". This project is a take-off from curator Hans Ulrich Obrist's ongoing series of shows titled "do it" and is founded in the ideology of embracing the DIY ethos and the empowerment that can come from experiencing the creative moment for oneself. You can participate online at or on Facebook at .

Aug. 22 2013 02:57 PM

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