On my never-ending quest to do all things immersive this Halloween season, I found my next stop at Screenshot Production's newest show THE ROPE. You may remember that one of my first forays into immersive theater was through Screenshot Production's "What We Learned Here: Parturition", in which I had a very emotional journey through an abstract experience of the birth canal. I consider that to be one of my gateway drugs into immersive theater and ever since I've been throwing myself headlong into everything and anything that will take me out of my comfort zone. When I heard that Screenshot Productions would be putting on another show for the Halloween season titled THE ROPE, my interest peaked as I found myself wanting to experience that same type of emotional destruction and uneasiness that I felt during PARTURITION. Though their latest show didn't offer that same feeling, mostly due to the fact that it wasn't as big of an emotional catalyst for me, I still found myself in wonder with what they had created.
THE ROPE's story is a bit convoluted and I'm not sure how to even describe it. On their website the event is described as follows:
"Gather around a crackling bonfire in the cavern of Medullarum, opening a portal into the dark world of Conscientia. Travel this world as the unnamed hero amid a network of illusion and ethos. THE ROPE utilizes intimate performance, illusory installation and the cultural mirrors of fantasy and sci-fi to traverse a synthetic narrative of agency and empathy."
If there is something I have to give Screenshot Productions credit for is that they know how to tell a story. THE ROPE's narrative reminded me of a cross between the fantastical aspects of Lord of the Rings mixed with the violence and uncertainty of life and death seen in Game of Thrones. The world of Conscientia was a huge undertaking by the creators and I respect how much time and effort went into weaving a story with such insane amounts of detail. With that said, it was also a hindrance as it was hard to follow what was going on at times or keep up with the characters and their backstories. I think overall the biggest roadblock that THE ROPE faced was clears directions for guests to follow. When putting together a show of this magnitude it's important for your guests to understand what exactly they are doing and where they are going. For the longest time I thought I needed to physically hold onto the rope that was placed within the space, only to find out that it wasn't needed. I found myself running into characters I already met with to be told I had to go meet with someone else, or I would get ready to speak to another character only to be told to hold off as someone else was speaking to them. Pacing was another aspect that needed to be fleshed out a bit more as guests found themselves (myself included) bottle-necking other participants during their experience.
Though there were definitely areas that needed to be approved upon, there were also aspects that really shined, one being the acting. Everyone that I encountered on my journey through Conscientia was interactive to the extent of who their character was. Whether it was the singing woman in white who sang a beautiful, yet haunting, song or the King with a tortured soul, each actor played their part and brought their A-game in a way that I don't often see. It was truly one of the highlights of the evening and each actor should be proud of what they accomplished during the run of THE ROPE. Another aspect that I was impressed with was the set design. The show was located at the Think Tank in Downtown LA, a place I've been to before, and I found myself in awe of how the designers used the space to create such a unique world. From the moment we step into the cavern of Medullarum to the moment we exit after a chance encounter, the designers made it a point to engulf the guests into the fantastical world around them with the use of only minimalist design. I have to say, as a designer, I was incredibly impressed with what they pulled off with the resources that they had.
All in all, I enjoyed what I experienced during THE ROPE. It wasn't a flawless execution and there were definitely some bumps in the road, but it's to be expected during any production. At the time, the cost for the event was $65 and I feel as though that was a little steep for the experience at hand. As you've noticed I don't really give a clear description of what I experienced and that's because it's hard too. It's very whimsical and very immersive which I loved but it's hard to put into words something that is also as in-depth and philosophical as this was. However, I look forward to seeing what else Screenshot Productions does in the future and I hope to experience many more of their events in the years to come.
For more information on Screenshot Productions visit their website at Screenshot Productions and follow them on Facebook at Screenshot Productions, Instagram at screenshot.productions and Twitter @screenshotart.