Posted on 17 March, 2016 by Team Wishberry
If you’ve had your eyes and ears tuned to theatre of late, you’ve most definitely heard of this term called Immersive Theatre going about. It’s perhaps the most engaging, innovative and interactive form of theatre, where the audience is as active in moving the play forward as the actors in the play! If you need more reasons to consider why your next play should be an immersive experience, we’ve got a few listed for you.
Immersive theatre is not limited to a conventional stage setup The beauty of an immersive play is that it can happen anywhere! From a small room to a dilapidated building to an intra-city treasure hunt setting – the options are endless! The setup of this format of theatre is such that communication between the actors and the audience runs both ways. It captures the very spirit of the play! The setup is such that the audience feels pulled into your story.
There’s plenty of room for experimenting The way the story moves forward in an immersive play is very non-linear. And there’s plenty of room for experimentation in terms of narratives and collaborations. Immersive theatre groups from around the world have been known to collaborate with musicians and graphic artists to take the experience of theatre to another level! Moreover, since these kinds of plays aren’t exactly restricted by the conventional setup, almost anything can be your venue!
The audience is actively involved It isn’t much of an immersive play if the audience isn’t actively participating in some way or another. Compared to the traditional format where the audience comes, takes its seats and merely watches the play, in an immersive play they are literally on a whole different adventure. They are asked questions, pushed to make choices that will decide the next move in the story. Obviously, there’s some basic structure – the actors have to guide and direct the story towards the desired direction. But, it is this form of controlled chaos that makes immersive theatre that much more exciting.
And yet, there has to remain focus on the story Immersive theatre isn’t just a rollercoaster ride; it’s a rollercoaster ride with a purpose. And this is something the playwright and the director have to remember all through the process of writing a play for this setting. It’s extremely easy and possible to get lost in the experiential setup, but the writer has to make sure there are a clear narrative and a strong plot throughout.
Immersive theatre in India: Although this is a fairly new concept in India, we’re seeing the rise of immersive theatre in the country. Last year, Thespo brought home Italian experimental theatre director Daniele Bartolini and his immersive play The Stranger – a one-audience play where the audience had to go on a 30-minute walk around Prithvi Theatre. The play’s was dotted with 16 actors who’d give the audience member clues and direction on where s/he should move next. Additionally, there are also a few groups who are bringing a whole new theatre experience to India. Notable among these are: Crow led by Nayantara Kotian and Prashant Prakash. They have created immersive plays like The Floating Market and The Bliss of Solitude. Visual Respiration led by Aruna Ganesh Ram. The group has staged plays like A Moment of Memory and Re: Play. Any immersive experiences that you’ve enjoyed the most? Tell us!