Interactive? Immersive? Me?

by Jim Fishwick on 6 September, 2019 in blog

There’s something magical about the feeling of improvising. The freedom, the connection, the support, the sheer audacity of it all. I suppose it’s somewhat similar to the feeling of watching improvisation, but with an extra thrill. It’s a feeling I wanted to share with the audience. I suppose that’s where my interest in interactive and immersive theatre came from.

The most famous example of immersive theatre is probably Punchdrunk Theatre's Sleep No More, where audiences unravel a non-linear film noir adaptation of Macbeth throughout a five-storey hotel. Some interactive theatre isn't a million miles from the cowboy theme park of HBO's Westworld, or a real-life version of one of those Choose Your Own Adventure novels.

In any good show, the audience naturally lean forward in their seats. I’m interested in taking that to its logical conclusion, that people lean so far forward they become part of the performance

When so much leisure and entertainment is available on our screens, what becomes essential about theatre is the immediate presence and reaction of a living, breathing, thinking audience.

In my work as part of Jetpack Theatre Collective, we made that a load-bearing pillar of shows.

We rowed people out on the harbour. Sang to them in art deco bathrooms. They explored pitch-black mazes, or their own dreams. They played art thieves, high schoolers, rhinoceroses.

Most of these shows were founded in the principles of improvisation: how can we best yes-and the audience’s input into the show?

I’ll be teaching everything that I’ve learned about how to improvise with audiences, not just for them, in Term 4 of 2019 as part of my course Interactive Immersive Improvising.

We’ll look at some of the key differences between types of experiential work, and how impro can be applied to them. I’ll be covering how to perform in unusual spaces, how to guide audiences through experiences, and how to yes-and what they give you. Come and get immersed in it!

Main image: Jetpack Theatre Collective's production of Rhinoceros (2016). Photograph by Julia Robertson.