Brisbane Immersive Ensemble Makes Audience Experience Top Priority
Combining traditional theatre and interactivity, Brisbane Immersive Ensemble leaves no stone unturned when it comes to creating engaging and stimulating performances.
A joint project between Company Director, Ben Lynskey, and Artistic Director, Xanthe Jones, Brisbane Immersive Ensemble aims to involve audiences in their shows as if they are part of the story. The pair’s first iteration of their participatory, reality gaming genre of performance was highly successful Cluedo! The Interactive Game. Ben says that, because they hadn’t been exposed to much immersive theatre prior to this venture, when Xanthe put the idea to him, they “did it the way [they] thought was best”. Cluedo! filled a niche that was lacking from the Brisbane theatre scene and luckily for them, the concept took off.
Ben says that Brisbane Immersive Ensemble have a philosophy of three points of focus. The first being “creating a world” in which you “fully believe you are in the space and in the world of the show” the moment you walk through the door. The second is to give the audience a purpose; Ben says that with immersive theatre you need to give the audience “a reason for being there” apart from just observing a show. The third is attention to detail and making sure there is “nothing that can break you out of [that] world”.
The world they are bringing to life this month is a real, functioning carnival experience aptly titled, The Midsummer Carnival. An adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this latest show will have everything from sword swallowers to strongmen, topped off with a big-top tent. The storyline of the classic tale will still hold true albeit adapted into an alternate carnival universe. Ben says that their aim with the show was to bring to life the carnival experience and “if you were just to come to the show and ignore the theatre completely, you’d just be at a carnival”.
One thing Ben acknowledges is that some people may have an idea in their head that ‘immersive’ theatre means you will be pulled onto the stage and forced to interact with the actors in front of everyone. This is not the case. Ben wants audiences to understand it is more of an experience that you can tailor to your own comfort levels. “If you want to really go in deep … you can do that but if you want to just sit back and watch and not talk to a single person … you’ll still get a great show,” he says.
So, whether you’re there for the Shakespeare or to get your fortune read, Brisbane Immersive Ensemble has gone to great lengths to entice any level of theatregoer to “dip their toes” into a whole new world.
What: The Midsummer Carnival
Where: The Stores Building, Brisbane Powerhouse
When: 24 January to 8 February
Make sure to visit the website to secure your tickets.