My essay Re-Imagining Expectation for the Theatrical Experience is a part of this great collection of essays on contemporary immersive theatre practices, published by Common Ground Publishing, and edited by Josh Machamer. My essay touches on formative experiences and experiments in my own exploration of immersive theatre work, including work created in London, UK and in Winnipeg, Canada.
Re-Imagining Expectation for the Theatrical Event examines contemporary practices of immersive theatre and their efficacy in relationship to audience expectation for the what and how of the theatrical event. Contrary to earlier forms of theatrical performance, immersive work takes on many characteristics in terms of the dramatic versus the theatrical, the role of the audience in the creation of the experience, and the role of the performer in preparing and guiding this experience. At its heart, immersive theatre calls upon both performer and audience to connect, and to re-define their understanding not only of what makes the theatrical event, but what agency they have in the events taking place in front of them. This chapter combines an examination of the work of impel Theatre in Canada with the formative experiences Artistic Director Kendra Jones had performing in immersive work in London, UK for Run Riot’s You Me Bum Bum Train and RADA Festival’s How We Met. Throughout, the chapter seeks to demonstrate the necessity of such a theatrical evolution in the current milieu to ensure the continuance of the art form in an increasingly digitally connected and personally disconnected world. Kendra Jones is an independent theatre director, writer, and academic based in Toronto, Canada, and artistic director of impel Theatre. She has previously taught at the University of Winnipeg Department of Theatre & Film, and Prairie Theatre Exchange School.
About the collection:
Immersive Theatre: Engaging the Audience is a collection of essays that look to catalogue the popularization of “immersive” theatre/performance throughout the world; focusing on reviews of works, investigations into specific companies and practices, and the scholarship behind the “role” an audience plays when they are no longer bystanders but integral participants within production. Given the success of companies like Punchdrunk, Dream Think Speak, and Third Rail Projects, as current examples, immersive theatre plays a vital role in defining the theatrical canon for the twenty-first century. Its relatively “modern” and new status makes a collection like this ripe for conversation, inquiry, and discovery in a variety of ways. These immersive experiences engage the academy of “the community” at large, going beyond showcasing prototypical theatre artists. They embrace the collaborative necessity of society and art–helping to define the “stories” we tell and the WAY in which we tell them.
You can buy a hardcover or PDF copy here: https://cgscholar.com/bookstore/works/immersive-theatre