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Beyond spectacle: inadvertent and intentional use of the mundane in immersive theatres

Howson-Griffiths, T Beyond spectacle: inadvertent and intentional use of the mundane in immersive theatres. Performance Research: a journal of the performing arts, 28 (4). ISSN 1352-8165 (Accepted)

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Since the turn of the Millennium immersive theatres have converged across the cultural milieu, from the operatic to the escape room. Some immersive performances lend themselves to a sense of excess, of grand staging and extreme scenic detail; the audience finding themselves in a state of total immersion. Nonetheless what about the moments that settle on something as mundane as a cup of tea and a slice of toast? This paper addresses an often-overlooked aspect of immersive theatres – where mundaneness intercedes into the performative world of staged intimacy, whether on purpose or by accident. It looks at how ordinariness and the commonplace can offer insight, feeling and a familiar texture within the immersive encounter. In this way, a positive framing of the mundane emerges as a crucial part of the sought-after ‘experience’, sometimes through juxtaposition with the spectacle, or spectacular by their very mundanity.
Considering a cross-spectrum of performance work, from the small to large scale, one-to-one to collective audience experience, analysis of everyday objects and moments occurring in the immersive performance world are examined. Referring to the work of all things considered, Darkfield, Punchdrunk, and Secret Cinema, the paper frames the relative opportunities for the presence of mundane activity and spaces within immersive performance focusing on specific performance examples from each company – Pram Talks (2016), Double (2020), The Burnt City (2022) and Dirty Dancing (2022), respectively. It is through analysis of the performances that the paper contextualises the importance of the audience experience, value and labour when mundanity is placed within an immersive theatrical frame.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1901 Art Theory and Criticism; 1904 Performing Arts and Creative Writing; Drama & Theater
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
Divisions: Screen School
Publisher: Taylor and Francis Group
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2023 10:52
Last Modified: 26 Jan 2024 11:41
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/22060
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