Bricolage Production Co.’s immersive-theater work STRATA was among 2012’s arts highlights around here. Now the show is one of several immersive or interactive works highlighted in the cover story of the current issue of American Theatre Magazine.
The article, “The Walls Come Tumbling Down,” by Diep Tran, explores the burgeoning phenomenon of theater that patrons participate in rather than merely watch.
It's a fun, accessible read that documents the explosion in recent years of these sorts of shows, an early example of which was British troupe Punchdrunk’s MacBeth-inspired Sleep No More, whose U.S. premiere was in 2003, in Boston.
For STRATA, which ran last summer, Bricolage took over the former Bally’s building, Downtown, and turned it into a “refitnessing center” run by an imaginary company that promised a kind of existential self-improvement.
The building was dressed as a variety of rooms, from doctor’s offices and archives to gymnasiums and multimedia isolation booths. Patrons “played” STRATA customers, who then underwent individualized experiences depending on the choices they made, as partly determined by interactions with actors playing STRATA employees (some friendly, some more menacing, some simply puzzling).
STRATA (produced in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust) was Bricolage’s biggest-selling show ever, and a massive undertaking for the small company. I loved it, and so did CP’s reviewer, Michelle Pilecki.
While STRATA is just one of the shows featured in American Theatre, the online version of the article leads off with a short video about the show’s set and lighting design, narrated by Rob Long, of Clear Story Creative, one of the many groups and artists that collaborated on the show.