Thesis Eleven 131 (1):114-126 (2015)

Critical thought on immersive theatres is gathering in pace with many arguments centred on explorations of audience/performer interaction and the unique relationship these theatres create. Within this paper I look beyond these debates in order to consider the implications of immersive theatres within contemporary culture, with the aim of furthering the ways in which immersive theatres are presently being framed and discussed. Theatre and science fiction have shared a somewhat limited relationship compared to their burgeoning usage within other forms of entertainment. This paper focuses on how the conceits of science fiction are being staged within this theatrical setting. Primary focus is given to Punchdrunk’s… and darkness descended and The Crash of the Elysium. This is considered alongside The Republic of the Imagination’s Cerebellium, an original narrative created for the performance which has been subsequently developed over a three-year period to date. This discussion is presented and framed through my personal experience as both a performer in Cerebellium and as audience member. The particular use of dystopian narratives and alternate worlds is given consideration, with reflection on the way these works destabilize and call into question the audience’s sense of self either through their ability to survive or understand their sense of self. By making evident the spectrum of practice, I endeavour to delve further into identifying and de-mystifying immersive theatres and their differences to conventional theatre.
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DOI 10.1177/0725513615613461
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