Punchdrunk’s immersive theater piece of Sleep No More opened in March 2011, and it’s inspired countless experiential designers of immersive theater, and virtual and augmented reality experiences. It was a paradigm shift that broke the fourth wall, and encouraged audience members to become fully immersed within the experience. Rather than sit in seats watching actors on a stage, audience members could explore an open world of 100 rooms across five floors, and make choices as to which actors to follow through the space or which parts of elaborate set design to inspect. Sleep No More has been a catalyst to other types of experiential entertainment including escape rooms, site specific performances, immersive and interactive art museums, and the digital mediated versions of these experiences through virtual and augmented reality.
I had a chance to catch up with Punchdrunk creative producer Colin Nightingale at the Immersive Design Summit on January 6th where I had a chance to talk to him about his journey into becoming an experiential designer for immersive theater, how immersive theater is being used for education and medical purposes, and the latest Punchdrunk productions which are all focused on blurring the line between what is reality.
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