BY JK CLARKE
There’s an interesting thing happening in the theater world. Immersive theater, in different variations, is emerging as a more prevalent medium. It’s not new, of course, but its popularity and the form it’s taking is intriguing. Seemingly in conjunction (or perhaps just concurrent) with the Steampunk movement (in which participants dress in Victorian or late 19th century garb, but with a technologically anachronistic bent, almost a Jules Verne-esque period science fiction), there’s now an aroused interest in historically evocative and site-specific theater, usually of the participatory variety. Witness the Speakeasy Dollhouse productions (which run the gamut from Prohibition Era speakeasy role-playing to a Players Club party that set just at the end of the Civil War, evoking noted actor Edwin Booth and his notorious brother, John Wilkes); or Sleep No More, a voyeuristic exploration—in which the audience follows characters from room to room—of the Macbeths (albeit slightly more contemporary); and then there’s last fall’s Turn of the Screw set in the Morris-Jumel Mansion historical site. The latest iteration of the first person exploration of history/literature is Serenade, an expansion of the eponymous Edgar Allan Poe poem.
BY TONY PERROTTET | FEB 27, 2015
After the show, I spoke with Ava Lee Scott, its writer-director, about the appeal of this fluid and interactive 19th-century performance style. “It comes down to a longing for human contact,” she said. “Today, everything is dehumanized by technology. We miss the intimacy of the Gilded Age — a handwritten letter, flowers at the door, giving a lock of hair, looking into someone’s eyes, feeling a human touch. There is a void today, and people want connections. We want storytelling and poetry in our lives.”