Originally published in “American Theatre,” July 2013.
In “The Walls Come Tumbling Down,” immersive drama is seen as a way to engage the audience with the world of a play, most often by literally throwing them into that world. One of the shows featured is STRATA, from Pittsburgh-based Bricolage Production Company, in which audiences were encouraged to wander through 30 rooms, housed in a former Bally Total Fitness. The venue spanned three floors and 24,000 square feet.
“The concept was to create what we called a ‘refitnessing’ experience for the audience, which was a play on self-help and self-improvement concepts,” says production designer Rob Long. “Unlike a typical theatre performance where there is a stage area and an audience area, the audience circulated through the spaces in the STRATAfacility. The circulation and flow was a principal factor in the design, from the time the audience entered the space, where they met with the inhabitants of the places. Some of those situations were very realistic and familiar, and others were pushed into the surrealistic realm.”
Below are some rooms from STRATA. Click on each video to hear Long narrate the design process behind each room, and what the viewer could expect to find in those spaces.
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