This past Tuesday, I had the chance to experience a new form of interactive entertainment in the form of a 2-hour immersive experience for the release of 20th Century Fox’s upcoming film, Alita: Battle Angel. ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL - PASSPORT TO IRON CITY allows guests the opportunity to immerse themselves in the futuristic dystopian world from the upcoming film and become players in a large scale, interactive game in which you and your team are competing against others for the top prize.
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 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.
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.
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.
The air is stale and the fluorescent lights flicker as I walk through a motel parking lot trying to find my car. Once I see it, I make my way over and open the passenger door before sitting inside. The car is small and compact, almost claustrophobic even and I could feel the weight of my worries hanging over me. I am Victor Hamlin and this is the start of Echo 1 / Inside My Soul.
There are few moments more terrifying in a human's life than those that forever alter how we think of ourselves. The moment when a boy is first called a man or a woman first learns she is pregnant, for instance, can spark an overwhelming rush of mixed emotions within us. We feel both excitement and fear, both joy and terror, all somehow in equal amounts and nearly paralyzing in their intensity.
As a child, I have always been fascinated by history, especially American history. And one of my favorite eras to study as a child was the Great Depression because it was so fundamentally different from the life we lead now. However, there are a couple of things that have remained the same no matter how much time has passed - the need for entertainment and love. Using the entertaining allure of the traveling circus in the 1930s as a backdrop, CoAct Productions’ THE SIDESHOW takes us through an intimate tale of love, betrayal, and - ultimately - forgiveness.
I had never imagined that my simple journey to find food in this giant Dust Bowl of a state would turn into something more. After entering the tent that would send me down a new and terrifying road, my hunger erupted into joking folly. I was sent into a tent by a minutely irritated soldier where I would first meet Phoebe Daring, but someone else was biding their time until the moment was right to bring forth an introduction. That someone was Ozma and, upon our first meeting, I felt a kinship that could fuel me more than food ever could.
What part of you do you keep at arms length? The part of you that is always yearning. The desires you can never seem to obtain. The part that is a constant struggle to accept. You find yourself locked outside of you a lot. Almost like your unconscious manifested into your reality, you find yourself standing on a street in Silver Lake locked out of your house again.
If you were to tell me a few weeks ago that I would be attending a secret speakeasy pop-up, hosted by a slew of R-rated puppets, I would have laughed. Fast forward to yesterday where I found myself in the heart of Hollywood outside an establishment called, The InkHole. I'm sure you are wondering, what do puppets have to do with any of this, well, I'm here to blow your mind, because what I was about to experience was a pop-up in conjunction with the upcoming comedy THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS.
Since the beginning of time, human beings have been mired in existential angst. Questioning their purpose, life after death, their creator, and the meaning of it all. GOD: THE APOLOGIES TOUR plays on this intrinsic human desire towards looking beyond earthly life and searching for meaning in the dark.
I’m just going to come out and say it. Talking to people is hard. There. I’ve said it. Despite the difficulties I find with conversation, the art of conservation is something we all engage in daily. It is a necessity. And, when you take a step back and focus a magnifying glass on your conversations, sometimes you can find a unifying thread that links it all together. This is what I believe Nocturnal Fandango has done with their most recent show NOSH.