This past year I’ve had a blast diving into the world of VR, but I had never done anything that felt like I was in an animated feature until last week when I experienced The Void’s RALPH BREAKS VR at the Glendale Galleria. If I ever wanted to know what being immersed in a cartoon was like, I have finally experienced it and it was one of the most fully immersive VR experiences I have done.
You know ALONE as an ongoing and fully-immersive set of experiences in the Los Angeles area. Presented in various forms, including scavenger hunts, walking tours, meditations and presentations, ALONE has built a reputation of unpredictability.
The last few years have seen a rise in virtual reality (VR) technology, especially in the landscape of immersive and interactive experiences. I’ve been incredibly lucky to experience a slew of VR experiences that ranged from DIY set-ups to the real-deal (outfitted with an Oculus headset, controllers, etc). Very few have blown me away, not for lack of trying but because I believe that the technology is still something people are learning. However, that all changed when I had the chance to check out MWM Immersive’s latest experience, CHAINED: A VICTORIAN NIGHTMARE.
It’s only been within the last 10 years that I watched HEATHERS for the first time. Ironically enough, my mom, who isn’t known for being the biggest fan of films that showcase excessive violence, was the one who showed me the movie. She herself is a fan of the film, and though it was my first time watching the cult-classic, I had known about its existence for quite some time. Recently, it was brought to my attention that a musical parody of HEATHERS existed and luckily for me, I didn’t have to look far to find a performance!
Society does a pretty good job of painting a picture of what the holiday’s should look like: an extravagant Christmas tree surrounded by gifts wrapped in shiny paper and large bows. Families in matching pajamas sit with smiles on their faces and cocoa in their mugs. It’s a beautiful image of fabricated perfection, but one that is far from the truth for most people. That’s not to say that there aren’t many who experience the joy that the holidays can bring, but behind all the bright lights, there are those who suffer. No show exemplifies that better than Zombie Joe’s BLOOD ALLEY CHRISTMAS.
It was a night with a nearly full moon. That was probably the first sign that something was going to go wrong that night. But we chose to ignore it as we all stood lined up outside of the dance studio, waiting for someone to come down to fetch us. It wasn’t long until a young mysterious woman came down, individually selecting us in an order none of us could really comprehend. When it came to be my turn to venture up the stairs, I hesitated. It was dark with just the barest hint of candles to light my path. But I pushed myself forward and eventually was led into a room fit for a ritual. Soon it was time. Time to INVOKE.
For those of us who live in Los Angeles, the idea of a dream home being given to us is more than a dream—it’s a unicorn dancing on the head of Nicholas Cage who is shooting marshmallow cupcakes at Big Bird while singing “Fireworks” by Katy Perry illusion of a fantasy. We have all seen those illusions so many times and we know there is always something rotten behind such a beautiful façade.
Something I’ve come to learn since living in California is that Halloween wouldn’t be Halloween without a Zombie Joe show and lo and behold, they are back once again with their newest rendition of URBAN DEATH: TOUR OF TERROR HAUNTED ATTRACTION. Not only does this experience include a phenomenal theatrical performance, but guests have the chance to walk through a darkened maze of confusion filled with the most depraved and horrifying creatures imaginable.
This October, SNOW FRIDGE is back with a newly crafted Halloween show aimed at exploring your fears. Similar to the original, guests are asked to fill out a questionnaire prior to attending the event to create a truly individualized experience. Although a similar concept, the masterminds behind SNOW FRIDGE created a vastly new experience that challenges guests to make friends with their greatest fear.
A few weeks ago, I found myself in the mid-city district of Los Angeles on a rather unusually cold and dreary evening. Upon arriving at the secret location, I made my way to a small outdoor seating area decked out with string lights and a fire pit ablaze and checked in for my designated appointment. Just as I gave the young woman my name, the skies opened up and rain poured down with thunder and lightning crashing all around us. A sudden storm had fallen upon Los Angeles which beautifully set the mood for what I was about to experience. A smile crept across my face as I stood in the rain and waited for Delusion’s THE BLUE BLADE to begin.
Whenever I contemplate an immersive production, as either audience member of creator, there are a few things that consistently roll around in my head. The story always calls first for me, because I want to understand why a narrative is being told, why here and now. A close second must always be the design, as I believe that immersive theatre can transport audiences to another world in a way that no other art form can quite emulate. Finally, I believe that the right talent can bridge both earlier elements together; indeed, even the best story and design need the human touch to live and breathe.
I will be honest. I do not have much experience with either VR or escape rooms. I have a basic idea of what each element consists of, but I have generally tried to steer clear of both due to my own preconceptions of both mediums of entertainment. VR can be very overwhelming for me and I am generally put off by the idea of large groups solving puzzles together, which makes escape rooms a bit less fun for me to experiment with. However, despite all of this, I found the WAX HOUSE: THE LEGEND OF JACK THE RIPPER to be quiet fun and enjoyable with just a few glitches here and there.
As a first time attendee of the Wicked Lit event, I was excited to finally get to see a production. I joined Shannon, who had been to previous shows for something a little different. In past years I had heard about the cemetery performances in the graveyard and was intrigued to see that staging. However, this year the creative team behind Wicked Lit has crafted a more intimate experience for their audience to explore the hallowed halls of the Mountain View Mausoleum in Altadena among its permanent residents.
The first immersive event that I attended when I moved to California was Creep LA. Since then, I’ve been consistently blown away by their productions, whether it was their own rendition of the Aaron Mahnke’s LORE, based on the Amazon Prime series, or a dinner party with an eccentric and secretive family in THE WILLOWS, the creative endeavors that Creep LA and Just Fix It Productions go through to make an unsettling, albeit beautiful, experience is unparalleled. I say all this because their Halloween show AWAKE is, without a doubt, a tragically beautiful masterpiece and their strongest performance to date.
While attending the North Bend Film Festival last month, I had the chance to participate in The Annabellee Experience, a weekend long event where a select few would have the chance to meet with Annabellee in person. The following is my account of my experience which touches upon my meeting as well as the realization that this was not my first encounter with Annabellee.
On Friday, I had the chance to travel to Kansas, aka downtown LA, for the funeral of General Jinjur, following the revolt that took place a month earlier that resulted in the death of the Scarecrow King during his wedding to Ozma. With tension still in the air, and a special video message from Ozma asking us all to attend the funeral, those who came, came with trepidation and curiosity. This resulted in the next chapter of The Kansas Collection, “The Witch”, which was one of the most heartwrenching and mind-blowing chapters thus far.
Last month, while attending the North Bend Film Festival, I had the chance to immerse myself in a few upcoming VR Experiences sponsored by Altspace VR and Microsoft MR at the Campfire Lounge at North Bend Train Depot. Ranging from aliens to cults, there was something for everyone, and though I didn’t get the chance to experience all the VR offerings available, I did get to check out three, and as a whole, I was left rather impressed with the state of VR technology. Read on to learn more about my experiences and make sure to keep an eye out for these in the future!