Puzzled Over

The Primary Vivid American Newspaper

The world of immersive theatre is now a broad church indeed. It’s a word Barrett consistently resists using. “We’ve never been one to try to define,” he says. “I think if you can define it, then it’s less exciting for an audience. I’m driven by trying to ask questions of form, and trying to pre-empt things, or explore nooks and crannies that have yet to have a torchlight shone into them. Immersive is such a buzzword – but there’s a new word coming.” And for Barrett, where this new language will come from is through more cross-discipline exploration, in particular the fusing of immersive work with game mechanics. The seeds of this were sown years ago when Sleep No More was listed as the game of the year in an American newspaper round-up. “They reviewed the show as if it were a video game,” Barrett remembers. “And it was a real penny-drop moment. And so we tried to deconstruct the mechanics of games and understand them and really see what could be taken to evolve the form. Audiences are craving autonomy and agency.”

Anna James interviewing Punchdrunk’s Felix Barrett for The Stage

Previously: All Things Pass. Only Vision Persists.