Just being a spectator and sitting useless in the audience? This is so last season.
The most famous interactive theatre is ‚Sleep No More’ in the McKittrick Hotel in New York – where the guests become part of the play. To those of you who are into cultural stuff, the crazy concept of ‚Sleep No More’ is probably no news. But it’s remarkable: Five years after it has started in New York (and it was just planned to run for some weeks at first), it is still one of the most amazing experiences you can have and people recommend it to you all the time. So all three of us editors went there for one night to know why everyone is still so fond of this play – and why it is still so successful. And don’t worry, this article is NO SPOILER.
You can read on without fearing to know all the surprising things about this play afterwards. You’re welcome.
1. In Europe we just discovered immersive plays.
In Germany, Austria and Switzerland the theatre „Terror“ by Ferdinand von Schirrach was really popular in the last year. This play even got it’s own television movie a few weeks ago, so people now know a little bit more about interactive theatres.
In ‚Terror’ the audience didn’t have to participate as actors, but they were part of a trial in court and had the power to decide the ending of the play. In the end it was the audience who gave the verdict if the main actor, an accused pilot was to be founded guilty or not guilty for his crime.
‚Sleep No More’ is like the advanced version of this, because you are physically in the middle of the play among the actors. You become a part of the situation and you’re not just a spectator during the whole play.
When you try to find out about immersive plays in Europe, you just find a few in Berlin or London, which are just pop-up-wise happening in abandoned locations. But hopefully this will improve soon.
2. Please don’t dress up.
We all know those crazy theme parties where you have to dress up to become someone else. We all love it and the fancier people look, the more you feel like a different person at this evening.
But at ‚Sleep No More’ it is the other way round: You wear a mask to be anonymous and blend in with the rest of the crowd. And this gives you a special feeling during the whole evening. We won’t tell you the exact reason, you have to experience this by yourself. So don’t worry about what to wear or how you look, just come as you are.
And speaking of not dressing up, ladies: DON’T WEAR HIGH HEELS. Again, we aren’t going to tell you why you don’t need them at ‚Sleep No More’ – but you will definitely thank us for this advice: PLEASE WEAR SNEAKER.
3. No phones, no conversations.
Nowadays with Social Media and constant availability, we all feel like we’re going to have a burn out in the next minute. At ‚Sleep No More’ you aren’t allowed to take pictures (this is why we can’t post more than the photo above), you won’t have your mobile phone with you and you can’t be distracted from the play.
Because honestly: When was the last time you made it through a concert, theatre or even cinema evening without checking your mobile phone?
You have a total different focus and willingness to pay attention to the theatre and the actors, which is amazing. If you feel like you need to prepare a little bit, read the important parts and turning points of MacBeth again.
Just one last advice: Have a drink at the Manderley Bar in McKittrick Hotel before. Or two. With a little booze it’s easier to let yourself take part in the play from the very first moment. And don’t be disappointed if you don’t quite follow everything on your first visit: You can come back to “Sleep No More” and experience it in a new way – which is a nice fact, too: The play can be visited more often than just once and is still a great experience.
By the way: McKittrick Hotel offers a special version ‘The Strange Undoing of Prudencia’ until the end of the year. Get one of the limited tickets here.
Adress: 530 W 27th St, New York, USA