Search This Blog

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Let Me Tell You A Secret...

Set for Punchdrunk Theatre's Sleep No More. Image via Ida C. Benedetto's blog

Secrets. Secrets keep us safe, set us free, bind us, intrigue and infuriate us in equal measure. I love the idea of secrets but I'm equally enamoured with the idea of discovery. I get excited when new archaelogical finds are announced and I love it when caches of personal papers/ artworks/ manuscripts are suddenly unearthed. Unravelling mysteries and sharing secrets seems to be part of our DNA - the lure of secret lands may have been the spur for Marco Polo's Asian oddessy but the need to impart those secrets is surely what brought him home.

In an increasingly digital world, uncovering secrets (think Wikileaks) and finding the answer to life's mysteries often feels as though it could be just a Google search away, but let's face it, it can be a bit of a hollow experience when you're home alone nursing your laptop. It's not surprising then that people are flocking to more communal experiences like those offered by Secret Cinema and Lost Lectures in London, events shrouded in secrecy the better to entice/engage their audiences. Tickets are hard to come by but those who do manage to procure one do so in the knowledge that the location and substance of the event will only be revealed to them slowly through a series of clues - some online (using both social media and interactive games), some involving actors.

The use of actors and unusual locations to create an immersive experience is taken to even greater heights by Britain's Punchdrunk theatre company whose Sleep No More, a radical retelling of Shakespeare's Macbeth/ Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca has been wowing sell-out audiences in New York. What is remarkable about Punchdrunk's approach is that it provides the opportunity for each audience member /participant to have a completely different experience of the same show depending on the choices they make as they explore their surroundings. Clues are everywhere but it's up to you to recognise and interpret them.

I'm not aware of any projects like this in Melbourne (perhaps it's a secret!) but I'm not sure how I'd go anyway. Maybe it's not for everyone. I'm a bit of an armchair explorer myself and although I love the idea of these projects I'm one of those people who freak out a bit when an actor breaks the Fourth Wall and encourages audience participation so my anxiety level would be pretty high! How about you? Have you been to anything like this? Would you like to?

P.S: If you're in Melbourne and keen for a spot of detection this weekend you might like to take part in the Melbourne City ROMP this Sunday 25 March. The event is described as part treasure hunt, part amazing race and aims to raise funds for the Burnet Institute of Medical Research whose focus is on finding cures for the 'Big Three' - HIV, TB and malaria.


  1. My friend saw sleep no more in NYC and said it was astoundingly good.I don't mind a bit of audience participation when I know it's coming, but other than that, my feelings are mixed.

    Fabulous post xo

  2. At first I thought I would love to attend something like Secret Cinema or Lost Lectures, then I thought, is it just another way to create an "exclusive" experience for those who are cool and in the know? Then I thought, no, that's a very negative interpretation - it's more like events for the curious and committed. And that's where I have ended up - I would love to go to something like this! I enjoyed this post, thanks.

  3. Sounds like an interesting experience ... but yes, I don't go in for anything that requires audience participation and I don't see that changing any time soon. :)

  4. Isn't it interesting how we all have slightly different attitudes towards dealing with the unexpected? I guess that's why I find the idea of these projects so intriguing. I'm at a stage in my life where I really feel like I need to push myself beyond my comfort zone and get a bit more control over my anxiety problems. Just not sure how to do it...

  5. Wow Caz these sound amazing...I've just signed up for Secret Cinema...

    I can't remember who said it but it was on the lines of...the only things you regret in your life are those you don't do...I'm a bit of a dichotomy...half me is always on the second row...not first...but secretly I want to join in and sometimes part of me always think things through too much... but I've been through some scary things over the past few years and so it has given me a different view of things that would have intimidated me...probably it gets easier as I get older... Oh and I'm inquisitive too...always exploring new things so maybe that helps...

    Thanks for sharing...

    PS we're having an amazing spring 22degrees yesterday...I'm just about to plant my Black Russian Tomato seeds...I'm so excited...thanks so much and for my lovely markers...I've got to get some herb seeds too so I can use them...I'll keep you informed of their progress...

    Have a great week.

  6. PPS Have you heard about the parties held in the catacombs 250ft under the streets of Paris? Sounds a bit creepy...

    I listened to this on radio 4 a couple of months've probably already heard it...


  7. I love your attitude to life Deb. Being led by your own curiosity can't be a bad way to navigate life can it. Thanks for the link tyo the Paris catacombs story. I remember when I was in Paris with a friend I sent him off by himself for a catacomb tour as I'm quite claustrophic! We have a bit of an underground scene here too especially through a group called Cave-Clan.

    How is your garden faring? I think you've had a bit of a cold-snap over there have you? My garden is a bit of a mess at the moment but the Autumn weather is still quite lovely so I really should get out and deal with it soon.

  8. The temperature plummeted after the mini heatwave. But then returned to seasonal average and now we are getting some beautiful blue skies and April showers that we desperately needed...we've got a hose-pipe ban in force at the moment! The little tomato seedlings are still safe and sound on the bedroom window sill until the weather settles down a bit...

    Enjoy the autumn weather....