Let me begin my story with my new favorite quote:
“Have you ever seen nature inside out? When the sun stands at midday and it’s as if the world was going up in flames?”
This week our theatre class snagged tickets to see the PunchDrunk company’s latest show: The Drowned Man. Most people aren’t familiar with the theatre company so let me put a little blurb about them: They are a theatre company that uses immersive theater and allows the audience to pick and chose where they go and what they see, similar to promenade theater. They have a series of simultaneous plot lines and scenes being acted out and you basically walk around an abandoned warehouse by yourself, in a mask. It’s trippy and awesome and amazing and scary and wow.
We started the show at 7:10, it began by a small group of the total queued audience being ushered into a dark room. We were first in line so our group was the first, and only people in the building. After being given our commedia dell’arte styled masks we were ushered into a tight elevator. We were given a brief speech about how we were not to take off our masks or speak for the entire three hours; they warned us that we would be split up and weird things would happen but to just go with it. The doors opened and I walked out, turned around and bam. The doors shut and Stephanie and I were alone…in total darkness. The rest of the group was still in the elevator and it was up to us to find our way around the multi-floored building. The theme of the show was old Hollywood, complete with movie sets and a chilling soundtrack. I won’t spoil the show by telling you different plot lines…not that I even saw half of them or knew what was going on at all. The way you find stories is by stumbling into a room with actors and following them around until you get bored, then doing the same process over and over.
Everyone in my group had a unique experience. Some were pulled into dark rooms by actors and had the doors locked, other crawled around the set and others…like yours truly were used a props in front of the entire audience. After watching a strange rape scene in a set that was supposed to represent the woods (tall trees, no lights and mulch) the attacker looked at me. He walked over slowly, grabbed my face and began stroking my mask. He grabbed me by the waist and pulled me close to him. He twisted my lower half to fit into his and began thrusting, mind you there is a large group of masks strangers watching this. Thank god I was wearing a full sized mask that covered my face because I was blushing and laughing like a little girl. After a few minutes, very long minutes of that kind of behavior he leaned back, looked into my eyes and shook his head then ran off. Uh. Okay?
For three hours I wandered the floors alone, sometimes watching little scenes and sometimes just looking at empty prop rooms by myself. It was a bit scary and a bit relaxing, the masks made us all feel invisible. I honestly can’t describe the show in a way that would do it justice, but it was one of the best experiences of my life. It was one long weird spectacle, and I definitely would go back. I think the weirdest thing I saw was a sex scene (all anatomy shown) next to a guy giving another guy a bj after a loooong dance number. The audience was so confused but afterwards I followed the..giver to watch his story play out. It was so intense.
When I was separated at first from Stephanie I was terrified but the only way to take in the show properly is by yourself. I wish I could tell you more but it would spoil it, possibly. But two people never, ever get the same story or have the same experience which fascinates me. After the show we all met up and took a long tube ride back to our flat for pizza and drinks with our professor. It was a long day but totally worth it.