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The Golden Age Of Immersive Theater

This is the last in a three-part series about the history of interactive theater, presented by Heineken. Check out Parts One and Two, which detail the early years of interactive theater and its Twentieth-Century flourishing. In this final installment, we discover where the form of entertainment is headed, with Heineken leading the way.

A few weeks ago Heineken premiered a unique one-night only immersive theater experience in New York City. Watch the video above to see how a few brave guests became The Guest of Honor. This unique one-night-only experience put just one person at center stage and asked them to share their unique talents as actors guided them on a bizarre, dream-like experience.

Immersive theater has really come into its own over the last several years, solidifying its status as a cutting-edge art form that's been embraced across the globe. 

Theater audiences experienced an entirely new way to experience the traditional stage play and literally get inside characters heads when American Standard debuted in Los Angeles in 2005. The audience had the opportunity to hear the inner thoughts of the characters via a headset they wear throughout the show. Audience members could switch from character to character, hearing what's going on inside the actors’ heads.

In 2007, The Boomerang Kid allowed audiences to make choices for the main character using handheld wireless technology. This would allow for over 50 possible variations in the narrative, like a crowdsourced "choose your own adventure" story. 

Running in parallel to these productions is perhaps the most famous immersive theater production yet, Sleep No More, which happens to also take place at The McKittrick Hotel, seen in the above video. It's a reimagined remake of Shakespeare's Macbeth, as told through a series of brief encounters between actors and spectators. Audiences actually are able to move about the hotel, exploring rooms and objects, interacting with actors and environments. They wear masks as they move about a chilling 1930s environment before they are ushered into a cocktail lounge for a final musical performance. 

Finally, we have The Guest of Honor, brought to you by Heineken. In the video we see a new level of immersion. This production builds on the work of everything we've seen before and offers something fresh and now by literally asking show attendees to take the stage. It's a natural extension of the form, leading the way for a new generation of entertainers. 

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Interactive Theater Comes Into Its Own

This is the second installment in a three-part series on the history of interactive theater, presented by Heineken. Check out the first post here.

Interactive theater has always been with us, but the form bloomed into a dozen variations in the 20th Century. Heineken’s "The Guest of Honor" is an example of the cutting edge of the art, a conglomeration of play, funhouse, and role-playing game.  But to get here, many strains of participatory entertainment had to converge over the last hundred years. 

People who experience events at The McKittrick Hotel, as seen in the video above, often come away comparing it to a haunted house attraction. This form of entertainment, and its sister amusement, the fun house, began in the early 1900s, with ghosts, monsters, killers and oddities interacting with audiences who moved through the attraction at their own pace.

Meanwhile, the traditional theater scene brought innovations as well. In 1934, the play Night of January 16th allowed audience members to become the jury in a courtroom drama, deciding if the defendant was guilty or not. The Sixties' art school hippies brought us "happenings," short-lived spectacles that took place in some public place that were designed to freak out unsuspecting folks who might be wandering by.

In 1963 the first Renaissance Fair was held in Los Angeles, with over 8,000 attendees interacting with blacksmiths, peasants, fools and knights. The rise of role-playing games, which allowed players to create and share alternate realms of adventure and magic, allowed the storyteller to collaborate with players. A decade later this practice would evolve into family dinner theater experiences, with various spectacles dependent on crowd participation. 

This trend developed over the following few years as "invisible theater," which might look like a couple having a fight in a crowded city square, or an argument at a coffee shop. These countercultural strands wove into the mainstream in 1985's Drood, a theater adaptation of an unfinished Charles Dickens novel, which allowed the audience to vote on a whodunnit mystery with seven possible outcomes. 

Interactive theater reaches its present age of flourish at the turn of the century, a moment we'll explore in the third and final installment of this series, presented by Heineken.

Mobile Love Stories

"All I could do was make phone calls and play Snake."

The love for your mobile device may not have been the first, but it is definitely one of the greatest. Your phone evolves along with everything else in your life, an unconditional love in its own right, but without all of the baggage. Check out the video above to watch millennials wax nostalgic about their very first phones.

This interview series is the latest in The Mobile Movement campaign, in which AT&T travels the country documenting the life and times of millennials. In each case, they aim to capture a different angle on the "networked existence."

Follow the movement at www.youtube.com/themobilemovement.

The Anti-Commitment Generation

Millennials are embracing their fear of commitment in a major way, and they don't seem to mind one bit. Check out the mini-documentary above for a glimpse into the mindset of what we might call the anti-commitment generation. READ MORE

The Age of Instant Gratification

We're living through an historic time in human communications. The ways that we connect to each other, to information, and to the physical world around us are changing at a truly breathtaking pace. And with it, life itself is changing as well.

AT&T, in partnership with Vice, is looking to highlight the role of networked life in enabling young Americans' always-on lifestyles with a new platform it's calling The Mobile Movement. Beginning in Austin at SXSW, AT&T has been traveling the country to discover the many faces of the mobile movement and document how it's changing our lives.

According to Vice's Eddy Moretti, “The condition, which we’re calling a movement, is a networked existence. It’s really visible and strong with young people, but everyone lives their lives connected through their devices to each other, and to apps that entertain them or bring them information. This is a new stage in human communication and human socialization. There is a movement out there, almost like an art movement, and we’re tapping into it, amplifying it in some cases, documenting it and celebrating it.”

So, how are young people thinking about their mobile devices? As it turns out, they're pretty high maintenance. Take a look in the above mini documentary put together by AT&T.

Follow The Movement at www.youtube.com/themobilemovement.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. And Jimmie Johnson's Reinvention Project Trucks Are Revealed

How would you rebuild a classic Chevrolet truck if you had both past and present parts at your finger tips? Valvoline gave Sprint Cup Series drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson exactly that, and now it's time for the big reveal of their custom reinvented trucks. READ MORE

How Immersive Theater Changed Entertainment Forever



This is the first in a three-part series about the history of interactive theater, presented by Heineken. We'll be rolling out the second and third installments next week right here on The Awl. Make sure to check in next Monday and Friday for more content to satisfy your historical curiosity. READ MORE

Free Spring Gift At Clarins

Spring has finally sprung, and Clarins is celebrating April with a free spring gift, which includes a cute clutch and 7-piece gift set. To kick the season off, they made a stop-motion origami video. Check it out to see what unfolds, and for a bit of spring inspiration. For the real thing, you'll have to visit ClarinsUSA.com.

Clarins has you covered for fresh spring looks. Visit ClarinsUSA.com to claim your free gift with purchase.

Digital Artists Document Life 'On the Go'


This post is brought to you by the Samsung Galaxy Note®Pro.

Life has never been better for artists, designers and creative professionals on the go. An expansive array of new technologies and apps now allow artists an unprecedented level of control and precision over their work. Tablets, specifically, offer artists an ease of mobility that allows them to capture inspiring scenes wherever they appear.

In celebration of the digital artist on the go, The Awl equipped two working artists with a Samsung Galaxy Note®Pro and asked them to document a passing scene from their everyday life. Check out their amazing submissions below.

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