24 Aug 2018

Making Immersive Theatre

Immersive theatre is building serious momentum in the live performance industry. It is breaking down the norms of traditional theatre and creating a new atmosphere that allows the audience to get involved on the night.

After blowing up in major markets across the UK and US, immersive theatre is starting to find its way all the way to our shores here in Australia and naturally, some of our grads couldn't WAIT to sink their teeth into producing their very own shows. We tracked down AFTT acting grad, James Martin, who is also co-producer of the upcoming immersive theatre production, 'Cellar V'. 'Cellar V' will be performed as part of this years Sydney Fringe Festival so we picked James' brain on what exactly immersive theatre is and why he has chosen to take on this style of theatre.

Could you describe what exactly immersive theatre is and why is it so unique?

Immersive theatre is theatre that breaks the fourth wall. It invites the audience into the story and the world that it is set in.

What initially was it that interested you about the art of immersive theatre?

It takes theatre and storytelling to a whole new level. It bridges the barrier between actors and audience which makes it somewhat more personal. I think there is something really special about it. Taking the audience by the hand and personally showing them this world.

Without giving too much away, can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming production?

The story goes like this......
It's a classic day in the City of London. It's raining, miserable and everyone is gearing up for the most anticipated event in the city's football season; Derby Day. Aofia, Archie and the rest of The Little Richard's staff have been through this before and know what to expect. But when Archie introduces a new girl to work at the pub, it's a scramble to keep secrets hidden. Everyone there has a secret, and they're willing to go above and beyond to keep it that way. But how far is too far? How much of it can be blamed on "accidents"?

Keeping things in the dark is harder than ever, especially when you have a motor mouth, a temper, or a drinking habit. It's mental.

What was the inspiration behind wanting to produce this kind of theatre?

Our final show at AFTT was an immersive experience of Steven Berkoff’s ‘WEST’. We had 15 minutes to tell the whole story… and we did it in a way that people found… REALLY funny… so we got back together and re- worked it into a whole new story, but we really wanted to keep the immersive experience.

How is the preparation different when preparing for an immersive theatre production as opposed to a traditional theatre production?

I think you really need to take the audience into consideration and HOW they are going to react to certain things. You need to make the audience feel like they are involved but safe. Thats what we have tried to do…

What advice would you give to any students currently studying at AFTT?

Take advantage of every second! Every conversation with a tutor or another artist will be some of the most valuable things you will take with you. And when you leave, work! If you want to work, you WILL work. Whether it's in someone else’s production or one you’ve decided to make. If you wanna work, you're gonna work!   

'Cellar V' will be running from the 11th-15th of September at St Peters Town Hall. You will not want to miss this exhilarating and unique production.

To learn more about 'Cellar V' and to secure your tickets, click here.

To learn more about studying acting, click here.