When I was explaining to my trainee crew how the last play I directed should work, I compared it to putting together a film. The play, Heart’s Core, was made with refugee women, put together from their stories, folk tales, and dreams.
What I said:
It will work like a film montage: juxtaposition creates the narrative. It will loosely tell a story, after fitting together all the women’s stories. Group bits as if they were scenes in one story, through montage.
Purpose – to create a live performance experience more intense than a film. Because most films are more intensely felt by the audience than plays. It’s the immersive qualities of film: surround sound in Dolby digital. Faces larger than life, so that the brain is fooled into thinking this face must be physically close to you, to loom so large.
Theatre is physically close to the audience, especially studio shows. Immersive theatre is closest of all. The actors are right next to the audience, standing closely enough to touch. The action might be flowing all around them, it can touch them, overwhelm them physically, take control, blindfold them, lead them sightless into the night. Rather than merely sympathise with a character, the audience could become the character, collectively. The audience must answer the call to adventure, take the challenge, make the choices, live the consequences. They have to feel at risk. The ultimate thrill-ride: a rollercoaster for the soul.
Do it right, do it well, and they’ll remember forever.
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