Image for post
Image for post
All images per This is Not a Theatre Company

This is Not a Theatre Company’s Dada-inspired piece bemuses us

“Dada rejects everything. Dada is freedom. Dada is the lack of meaning. Dada means everything. Dada rejects linear storytelling, it rejects genius, it rejects the logic that led us to war. Dada genius. Dada war. Is this art? You tell us,” declares a woman wearing a shower cap with a balloon attached to it. I didn’t know what to make of this or the rest of the onboarding speech that followed, but that’s exactly the point, isn’t it?

This is Not a Theatre Company’s newest digital experience, Readymade Cabaret 2.0, is a lightly interactive streamed show taking place on the virtual gathering platform Shindig. Shindig is an in-browser video chat similar to Zoom, but more tailored to event hosting. Video feeds of audience members are placed in moving squares floating around the bottom half of the screen while performers or presenters are able to pin their videos to the stage on the top half. Attendees can link their video squares and “watch together,” or prevent their square from being linked at all. I did not link my square with anyone during this performance, but I could see this as being a good way to the feel less isolated during a virtual event as it mimics the idea of attending an event with others. …

Image for post
Image for post

Audience members become characters in this roleplaying Zoom experience

After almost six months of being fully quarantined inside my home, the thing I have been missing the most is the opportunity to go places. Not just in the traditional sense of traveling or even simply leaving my home and changing up the scenery, but more broadly. Of course, I miss running around Brooklyn, and traveling across the world. But what I really miss is the type of entirely distracting, forget-the-outside-world journey that comes from an engrossing theatrical experience. Sure, I do miss the ordinary world that I know and love, but I miss more the ability to be transported into worlds unlike my own. Virtual experiences are taking their best stabs at this, but it’s hard to curate a live environment over a screen. Something always seems to be missing. …

Image for post
Image for post

Brian Feldman does… whatever we want him to in the audience-led experimental piece

“If you don’t like the show that is a YOU problem, it is YOUR fault, but only a little bit, it is collectively everyone’s fault if you don’t like the show,” says charismatic facilitator Genny as she rattles off an energetic onboarding spiel.

Good luck getting strangers to collaborate over Zoom, I think, but what happens next is, strangely, exactly that.

#txtshow (on the internet) is the quarantine version of performance artist Brian Feldman’s in-person, live texting piece. Taking place over Zoom, the audience are required to rename their profiles as “Anonymous” and leave both video and audio on while they watch, and ultimately create, that evening’s performance. During the onboarding speech, participants are instructed to privately message the character of “txt” (aka show creator Brian Feldman) with proposed dialogue and text for the evening’s script. Aside from asking us to please not make txt shout “Fire!” in a residential building, there aren’t very many limitations given. After the onboarding is finished, txt enters the frame and sits in an unremarkable room at a table with a mug placed on it. …

Image for post
Image for post

The solo isolation audio spa is more meditation than performance

I think it’s safe to say that we are all very stressed right now. I mean, there’s nothing quite like a global tragedy to make you realize how much anxiety your body can hold at once. I personally have been living my quarantine days with a low level of panic and tension humming in the background of my existence (apologies in advance to my chiropractor). So I think what I’ve been searching for in my entertainment endeavors is a bit of respite, a relief from the constant sense of dread that comes from subconsciously being in “fight or flight” mode 24/7. I don’t mean the mind-numbing sensation of a Netflix binge or aimlessly scrolling through Twitter, but a true moment of rest and restoration. …

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by visuals on Unsplash

The interactive improv-based Zoom experience leaves audience members laughing

“We Make You $$$$ Today! Yes!

All Our Positions

Best Work From Home Ever!*

* Not All Jobs Work From Home

Do not worry about any taxes, laws or regulations, We Take Care Of All That For You Easy! All Employers Verified By Social Media. NO FAKE NEWS HERE!”

As an avid immersive theatre consumer, I really appreciate when the world of the piece is made clear from the start, and Work From Home truly excelled at this. The above excerpt is from their web site which is so well crafted into the world that it’s hard to tell whether it’s a web site for the experience or for the fictional company behind the virtual job interviews. Based on this alone, I knew exactly what I was walking into and what tone to expect. My assumptions were validated when I received my confirmation email from the company’s CEO prior to the experience which led with, “Hello, ALLIE! YOU ARE GOOD, YES?? WE HEARD YOU are LOOKING FOR JOB! WHY NOT??” …

Image for post
Image for post

The second chapter of the immersive nightlife experience lacks guidance

Immersive performance and the nightlife scene seem to have intrinsic ties to one another. Something about crowded, dimly lit spaces with pounding music just screams “do experimental work here!” Venues like House of Yes and The McKittrick Hotel, as well as companies like The Neon Coven and Company XIV, come to mind as those blending the two worlds in NYC. With more and more immersive productions seeking non-traditional performance spaces, existing bars and clubs seem to be the go-to solution, and Bushwick’s 3 Dollar Bill is no exception. The venue has a bar, a patio with a taco shack, and a massive performance stage, making it an attractive space for immersive performances, in addition to the usual parties, concerts, and DJ sets that hold residency there. …

Image for post
Image for post

Camp-infused participatory moments create a hilarious, festive experience

Cocktail parties and other festivities of general merry-making are no stranger in my social circle, but never have I ever been invited to a proper fête. For those of you like me, wondering what the heck a fête is, don’t worry, Merriam Webster to the rescue! A fête is a festival or a large and elaborate party, as in “the heiress wanted to do something with her life other than shuffle from fête to fête.” After acquainting myself with the definition, I was ready to get my glitz on at NYC’s festive The Immersive Nutcracker Cocktail Fête.

Set inside the stunning American Irish Historical Society, the environment was elegant and extravagant right from the start. The building spans multiple floors, all adorned with ornate furniture, artwork, and chandeliers. Upon arrival, guests have a moment to catch their breath and chat in the main lobby, setting the vibe of a more traditional cocktail party scenario, but soon everyone receives onboarding instructions as a group, including to make sure we all silence our “devil boxes,” or as we know them, cell phones. …

Image for post
Image for post
All photos by Hyphen Photography

Family-friendly immersive theatre finds its way in the West Village

“Listen closely, can you hear that?” the man in the white lab coat asks me, his ear pressed to a silver tin can against the bookshelf.

He beckons me to take a listen, which I do.

“I think it’s…waves?” I respond.

He takes the tin can and is off in a flash, sharing the new sound with other audience members surrounding the shelves full of captured sounds. This was the first of many fleeting moments of wonder that would soon activate the surrounding space.

Image for post
Image for post

The UP CLOSE Festival is a family friendly project centered around immersive works. Presenting for their second year at the New Ohio Theatre, the festival is focused on telling stories about New York City and all the inherent history surrounding us city dwellers in our day to day. Created by Peter Musante and associate produced by Sara Morgulis, the event takes inspiration from legendary West Village artist Jane Jacobs by creating a “living archive” in order to engage younger theatregoers in the history of the world that surrounds them. The performance is comprised of a free form pre-show, allowing the audience to explore what will soon become the sets of the performances, followed by three short immersive and participatory pieces. This year’s lineup includes Sanctuary/Garden by Spellbound Theatre, a look into the history of St. Luke in the Fields community garden, 219 Thompson St. created by Marisa Blankier and Christopher-Rashee Simpson, which is a quick lesson on the history of the famed West Village chess wars, and The Society of Historic Sonic Happenings (SHSH) by Adrienne Kapstein, a sensory based investigation of the preservation of sound throughout history. …

Image for post
Image for post
Photos by Photo by Maria Baranova

Radiohole’s newest interactive theatre piece is not for picky eaters

“Salad!” our host joyously proclaims as she tosses handfuls of arugula in front of an industrial fan.

The wind carries the greenery across the table and over into the audience for the third course of the wackiest dinner I’ve ever had the privilege of attending.

Now Serving by Radiohole is a fantastical musing on feminism, etiquette, and society’s loss of love for the pursuit of “fun for fun’s sake.” According to the pocket sized manifesto/program audience members receive at entry, the world is in dire condition:

“The world outside is gray and drab and grim. It sucks. The people, the masses are an operation [sic] to those who rule. It’s all about functionality and money and numbers. Nothing is enjoyed. People only live to serve functions. …

Image for post
Image for post

Pondering the bits we leave behind in Dante or Die’s intimate production

A man gestures to me, sitting cozied up in a corner with my cup of tea.

“And Margaret over here likes a quiet corner, just like me.”

I panic. Is he talking about me? How could he possibly know that to be true?

My name’s not “Margaret” (well, my middle name is… but still) but he definitely gestured at me.

Of course he’s not talking about “me,” well, he’s not talking about the real me anyway, he doesn’t even know me. The real me is just a placeholder, a body in space. He’s talking about the idea of me. …

About

Allie Marotta

Brooklyn based wearer of many hats. Collaborative & immersive theatre-maker/arts educator/researcher.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store