Explore: The World of Sleep No More

The New York Times has a fascinating article about Punchdrunk's production of Sleep No More. Punchdrunk is a British theater company that puts on immersive theatrical events. Essentially, you, the viewer, become entwined in the narrative and interact with the sets, cast, and story. Sleep No More is a hybrid adaptation of Macbeth and Rebecca. You arrive at a designated time at the converted theater-space to join a party already in progress. You go from room to room, picking up on threads of the story and arranging them in your own mind into the actual narrative.

The best (and rather unfitting) comparison I can make is to a professional haunted house attraction. There, too, you are given a little bit of a narrative framework to go by. You then enter room after room, exploring the sights, sounds, and smells of a story that isn't quite what it appears to be. Sleep No More is similar in conceptual planning but goes far beyond the linearity of such an attraction.

The real draw of the New York Times feature is the beautiful interactive gallery of six of the major set pieces. Each features multiple photographs and audio commentary from the creative team of the play. For example, one of the rooms is a Sweet Shop. The pictures show floor to ceiling shelves of real candies. The audio explains that you can even open the jars and have a snack if you so choose.

What's so compelling about Sleep No More is this level of interactivity. According to the article, you are encouraged to break the conventions of theater and explore everything.

In our world, every single drawer, cupboard, wardrobe that can be opened, should be opened because you'll find something inside.

Compare that to your typical professional theater outing. If you touch the stage, you're likely to get yelled at by an usher not to touch anything. You can sit in your seat and only move during designated points in the show. While there is a certain comfort in knowing all the work is done for you, the idea of getting to become a part of the play itself is ingenious.

If you are able to see the show in NYC, you won't forget the experience. Tickets are available through the end of April, though many of the earlier and later time slots are already sold out.

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