"Sleep No More" and the evolution of immersive, interactive theater
Steven and I experienced Sleep No More last week. I found it enthralling, very dark (dizzying for the visually impaired, but not totally unsafe) and addictive— I’d love to go again, choose a different path, spend more time on details, bring my reading glasses, be brave enough to stand alone and look an actor in the eye for a chance to be pulled into a wardrobe or spare room…
But some unsettling thoughts or non-thoughts …. sensations, maybe, were spinning for me as I tried to sleep that night. It wasn’t the imagery or the soundtrack or even the haunted house elements of the piece that made me ‘sleep no more’ that night… It was the strange feeling that lingered after being a part of this particular audience. I felt a little lonely after a long night as a masked ghoul lurking over actor’s shoulders. Steven and I grumbled a little at each other as we started the long journey home to Brooklyn.
It felt not unlike leaving a strip club, in that I’d been give very strict rules, but touched multiple times by sweetly sweaty smelling, naked or nearly naked gorgeous women, been stared straight into and through by a performer as if I weren’t really there, been disoriented by the ambience (perhaps having nothing to do with my blindness at all) and in the end had dazedly bought a couple very, very expensive cocktails on top of my very pricey entrance fee just to take the edge off, leaving into the damp night broke and a little bewildered.
I loved it. Really. And I’d do it again. It’s pretty genius. But I wanted to research this SNM spectator guilt/glumness/weirdness phenomenon, and sure enough, I found this article.