Underland: A New Immersive Club & Incubator with a Mission to Transform the Industry

A New Immersive Incubator & Private Club

For 2019, Epic Immersive is launching a new immersive club and incubator, with new exclusive experiences every week, featuring a mix of internationally-renowned and local artists. And here’s what they have in common: every one of them is a woman, a queer artist, or an artist of color. Welcome to Underland.

Here’s how it works: Members pay $25/month to get exclusive access to new immersive experiences weekly. This in turn allows Epic to play host to an onslaught of artists of color, women, nonbinary creators, and directors from other underrepresented backgrounds — creating a new incubator of weeklong residencies aimed at changing the face of the immersive industry.

We are launching on March 2nd and 3rd with an all-new collaboration with resident Melinda Lauw, the renowned founder of Whisperlodge and the world’s leading live ASMR creator. Originally from Singapore and now a resident of San Francisco, Melinda has been featured in The New York Times, BuzzFeed, The Atlantic, Refinery 29, Netflix, and more. This new collaboration, Whispers Underground, will be available exclusively to Underland members for only $45 (Whisperlodge’s Los Angeles show is currently selling for $150).

We’ll follow up Whispers Underground with a new work by Melanie Dorey of Paris’ Madame Lupin (in collaboration with Pim Schachtschabel of Amsterdam’s Sherlocked), a new Epic creation spurred by a design jam with Paris’ Big Drama and Madame Lupin, and a new movement-based immersive experience by residents Emily Beloate and Maya Singer.

Expect the coming months to be filled with residencies for local artists, a curated series of performances featuring international artists, and new Epic collaborations with everything from hip-hop artists to Indian mythology. Plus, special club nights, drag performances, and upcoming perks for members. In month two, expect experiments delving into pervasive characters at club nights. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

Whispers Underground hits March 2nd and 3rd, and will sell out. Join Underland now ($25/month) to get exclusive access to Whispers Underground ($45/ticket) and the rest of March’s work. And act fast — we only have a limited number of memberships available for the first phase of Underland!

To become a member, fill out this short form, and our Membership Concierge will get in touch! Membership is month-to-month, renewing on the 15th of every month.

Why an Incubator and Private Club?

Epic Immersive began with a mission to make theatre more popular by making theatrical experiences more diverse, more multidisciplinary, more embracing of technology — and more epic.

Pictured above: Epic actor Dana Soliman in “The Infernal Motel”, Epic’s Ballet Folklorico collaboration in “Matthew Briar”, Epic’s collaboration with San Jose Taiko “Swingposium”, an image from Epic’s 360-video Kabuki collaboration, and Epic actor Natalie Cutler in “Carnival of Memories.”

In 3.5 years, we’ve collaborated with taiko drummers, hip-hop musicians, Ballet Folklorico dancers, ASMR specialists, escape room designers, mixed reality developers, swing dancers, and circus performers. Our collaborations have led us to craft pieces with Japanese-American internment camp survivors, design celebrations of San Jose’s Japantown that spanned four city blocks, and create choose-your-own-adventure 360 videos and board games for the foster care system.

And, in every year of our existence, more than half of our artists in any year have been women, and more than half of our artists in any year have been artists of color.

Now, in 2019, we want to up the ante. We’ve met so many exciting artists from underrepresented backgrounds, and we want to be a part of elevating their takeover of the immersive industry. Meanwhile, we are aiming to build a sustainable model to keep alive one of the Bay Area’s most exciting spaces. These two visions led us to design this first-of-its-kind incubator and club.

First Up: Whispers Underground

Join Epic for the premiere of Underland: Whispers Underground, a new collaboration between Epic and Melinda Lauw of Whisperlodge. In Whispers Underground, guests will be treated to an exclusive, hour-long ASMR spa experience.

Whisperlodge is at the vanguard of the ASMR movement. Check out their coverage in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and on BuzzFeed’s Follow This on Netflix.

Pictured above: images from Whisperlodge.

As The New York Times writes,

Whisperlodge is an unusual mixture of theater and therapy. Audience members show up and pay $90 to $120 to experience scenes presented by a semiregular cast of performers and designed to elicit autonomous sensory meridian response, more commonly known as A.S.M.R., the suddenly popular phenomenon in which gentle sounds or touch make some people feel relaxing tingles at the back of the skull.
A.S.M.R. has a huge following online, where hundreds of thousands of fans watch videos of people performing soothing activities to help them sleep or relax or to ease anxiety. Whisperlodge, founded by Melinda Lauw, 25, an artist, and Andrew Hoepfner, 35, who creates immersive theater, is one of the first in-person A.S.M.R experiences in the world, and it’s starting to draw crowds, one intimate audience at a time. The group says it has sold out all 16 runs of performances since launching in Brooklyn in 2016, including six events in California and a few “whispers on demand” sessions that are more spa treatment than performance, where people pay $150 and up for one-on-one customized relaxation sessions.

It is our great honor and privilege to open up Underland with this exclusive new collaboration!

March: Artists from Paris & A New Movement Piece

The rest of of March at Underland will see new collaborations with our international friends from Big Drama, Madame Lupin, and Sherlocked, plus a drag night and special club nights for Underland members to invite friends.

Pictured above: images from Madame Lupin’s “Curiosity Leads to Trouble”, images from Madame Lupin’s creation in the Paris catacombs, Epic actor Chris Steele performing drag in “The Midwinter Masquerade”, and resident Emily Beloate dancing.

We are beyond thrilled to be welcoming our friends at Madame Lupin and Big Drama to San Francisco. Both companies are pioneers of the immersive scene in Paris, and we had the great pleasure of collaborating with both in November’s Paris Immersive Challenge, where we gathered 40 international artists together at Paris’ Le Secret to make a new immersive experience in 48 hours. Thanks to The Immersive Design Summit, Madame Lupin and Big Drama will both be out in San Francisco, where we’ll be hosting a design jam at Underland. From this exploration of each others’ styles, Epic will build a new experience inspired by the work of both Parisian companies and helmed by Epic’s Kimberly Flynn.

Underland is also a place to experiment with a range of immersive styles. Did you know that, in three years of Epic’s existence, we’ve never created an experience based on movement? How can that be in an industry led by shows like Sleep No More and Then She Fell? Well, in March, that changes, thanks to a residency for up-and-coming immersive artists Emily Beloate and Maya Singer, working in collaboration to bring a new dance-centric experience to Underland.

How to Join

To become a member, fill out this short form, and our Membership Concierge will get in touch.