Part 1 – What is immersive theatre?
Part 2 – MITE Festival – Why micro-immersive?


Production image from BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (2015) in Salt Lake City. Immersive theatre's flexible definition.
Production image from Sackerson’s BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (2015) in Salt Lake City.
FOCUS: single track; FLOW: guided; FAMILIARITY: passive

Theatre happens when you have live performers sharing a space with a live audience.

Typically there are demarcations: the world of the story ends here at the edge of the stage.

There is “audience space” and “story space”. Immersive is what happens when that line gets blurry or disappears altogether.

Immersive theatre happens when an environment is created where the audience feels like they’ve stepped inside the world of the story.

There are lots of different kinds of immersive theatre–but basically three different spectrums that most immersive work falls on:

FOCUS: Single-track or multi-track. Traditional theatre is most often single-track: there is only one thing to be watching at a time. Some immersive works are single-track, too. Other immersive works (typically those using multiple rooms or large spaces) have multiple things happening at the same time.

FLOW: Guided or agency-based. In multi-track shows, when multiple things are happening at the same time, immersive works do one of two things: audience members are either guided through pre-set paths OR are given options regarding where to go. Some experiences offer “fork in the road” moments, while others allow audience members to wander freely and follow whatever piques their interest. Most single-track shows fall into the category of “guided”, but some offer multiple outcomes or story-influencing decisions.

FAMILIARITY: Passive or Interactive. Because audience members are inhabiting the same space as the performers, immersive works handle the performer/patron relationship in varying ways. Some immersive works allow audience members to be silent invisible spectators. Other works may directly address audience members or require some level of participation or even improvisation.

Some immersive works demand a lot from audience members in terms of decision-making and participation. Others are on par with what is required from an audience at a sit-down play.

All immersive work has the exciting potential to invite the audience inside the world of the play.

Production image of POPPY'S IN THE SAND (2016). A site-specific style immersive theatre piece in Salt Lake City.
Site-specific performance of POPPY’S IN THE SAND (2016) on the shores of the Great Salt Lake.
FOCUS: single track; FLOW: guided; FAMILIARITY: passive.
Production photo from SONDER (2017). An immersive theatre production in Salt Lake City.
Immersive performance of SONDER (2017) inside the 3-story Eagles Hall. Audience chose whom to follow and what stories to hear throughout this show.
FOCUS: multi track; FLOW: agency-based, slightly-guided; FAMILIARITY: mostly passive with opportunities for interaction.