“Immersive theatre” is a notion that has become widely used in recent years to describe a genre of live performance that blurs the line between audience and performer. The audience is placed within the action of the play, rather than simply watching it happen on stage. This can be done in a number of ways, such as having the actors performing in and around the audience or having the audience members themselves take on roles within the play.
The term “immersive theatre” is thought to have been first used in the early 2000s, although the concept of immersive theatre has its roots in earlier experimental theatre movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Thus, immersive theatre is still a relatively new genre that is constantly evolving. As such, it can be difficult to pin down a precise definition of what it is. However, there are some common elements that are often found in immersive theatre pieces. They often have a strong element of audience participation, where the audience is invited to make choices that will affect the course of the performance, or to explore the performance space and interact with the performers. This can make immersive theatre a very intimate and personal experience, and it can also be a very challenging and confronting one.
Immersive theatre is usually very site-specific, and the performance space is carefully designed to create a particular atmosphere or mood. An immersive theatre piece might be set in an unconventional venue, such as a disused factory, a moving train, or an underpass, or it might use a traditional theatre space in a non-traditional way. As immersive performances are intended to create a strong sense of immersion, they often go beyond purely visual impressions, and instead of using a variety of sensory stimuli. For example, an immersive theatre piece might make use of smells, sounds, and tactile experiences to create a more intense and realistic experience. Lately, an increasing number of immersive theatre performances also use augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR), to create a digitally enhanced immersive experience.