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Last night [livejournal.com profile] vschanoes took me out to Brooklyn to see "And Then She Fell," an interactive theatrical performance based on Alice in Wonderland.

Single best theatrical experience of my life.  Actually, it might account for the top five.  It's currently being staged in the basement of an old Gothic building, subdivided into vignettes - last night I painted white roses red with the Rabbit, got fitted for a top-hat by the Mad Hatter, a gorgeous redhead in a waistcoat and smoking jacket, as she sang torch songs and dictated a forlorn letter of unrequited loved to Mr. Carroll, ran through a half-drowned room with the author himself in his bare feet, and ate an orange with Alice in a mirror.  It was magical.

It made me wonder why more theater doesn't take this form ... until I looked around at the rest of the audience.  Of necessity, these things are limited in scope: "And Then She Fell" caps its performances at 15 people a pop.  There are apparently three alternate "paths" to take through the set and the scenes (which, more than anything, makes me admire the orderly mind of these people who can plan surreal dreamlike experiences with the precision of military generals - I imagine it's like playing chess on E).  In the two that V and I took, we were apparently the only people to play with the performers - to banter, to explore the beautiful, careful arranged scenes, to make inside Alice-jokes. 

Makes me think of a line from Rosemary Edgehill's Speak Daggers to Her, where she remarks on people in the Pagan community who just want to be told what to do by an authority figure - "if I'd wanted to sit in the chorus, I would have stayed in the monotheistic hierarchy from which I came," or something along those lines.  If you just want to watch actors act, go to a traditional theater!  If you partake of something like this, though ... dudes, play.  Why don't people know how to play anymore, she asked plaintively?

On a snarkier note, they certainly don't know how to dress: of the fifteen people there, we were the only ones to dress up.  And I am living out of a suitcase, for god's sake.  If I can pull together a shining blue dress and a corset printed with dragons, by god, I expect better than Uggs from the rest of y'all.  Good lord.

Date: 2012-11-11 06:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vschanoes.livejournal.com
It's a problem. People don't play, and they don't take joy in other people playing. There's a difference between playing and entertainment, I think, and we're all too accustomed to the latter.

Date: 2012-11-11 06:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lutin.livejournal.com
Incredible! That sounds like amazing theatre.

Date: 2012-11-11 07:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] omnia-mutantur.livejournal.com
Hey, I'm working with her on Readercon stuff. It really is a small world.

Date: 2012-11-12 03:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/_swallow/
That sounds amazing. I loved this write up.

Date: 2012-11-13 11:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] swan-tower.livejournal.com
Normally I'm not that keen on stuff that seems avant-garde in its setup, but this sounds fascinating.

Date: 2012-11-14 10:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tibicina.livejournal.com
Two answers - a) the economics of those small audience sizes make it harder to break even, which is hard enough in theater most of the time and b) as you said, too many people want to be entirely passive in their entertainment, so it can be difficult to get people to interact. You either need to get exactly the right people or you need to constantly cajole and reassure them that it isn't only allowed, it's desired. (Or, in something which can be done in larger groups, you can also seed people in the 'audience' to demonstrate that no, really, interacting is the point, but that's hard to do in small groups.)

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