Immersive theater—an approach to performance loosely defined by its participatory nature and unusual settings—had its first mega-hit with the 2011 New York production of Sleep No More. Five years on, the production has inspired creatives across the US to bring immersive theater to their hometowns, introducing it to a much wider audience.
Sleep No More, produced in a five-floor warehouse featuring ornate set pieces and a cast of dozens, at first drew few imitators. In 2016, however, immersive productions are drawing crowds in Seattle, Los Angeles, Nashville and beyond.
Darren Lynn Bousman, who directed three films in the Saw horror franchise, this month is launching The Tension Experience: Ascension in Los Angeles. Guests at Ascension are invited to go on a “site specific journey of trust, betrayal and submission” as they explore the O. O. A. Institute, a shadowy organization where “something sinister lurks behind each welcoming smile.”
“It’s hard to compete,” Bousman told the Hollywood Reporter. “Every day it gets harder and harder cause you have so many movies being released On Demand, Netflix, DirectTV. You have so much content being produced.”