There's something magical about live theater. Being physically close to the actors and actresses, hearing the emotion in their voices and seeing the sweat on their faces makes you feel like you're in their world. It surpasses that disconnect the audience has when watching movies and shows on a screen.
"Sleep No More" takes this feeling of immersion to a whole new level. Performed in an abandoned warehouse, audience members are set to freely roam among the actors throughout five floors of a hotel-themed environment but are not allowed to talk and must wear masks at all times. Sleep No More tells the story of Shakespeare's MacBeth, but in a hotel setting and with little spoken dialogue.
This theatrical experience has received critical acclaim for its bold and unique storytelling style. However, Sleep No More is one of many theatrical experiences that are unorthodox. Here are 10 other places to see strange live shows!
10 Third Rail Projects, New York
Based in New York City, Third Rail Projects is an theater group that prides itself on immersing its audience in its worlds. The group has tackled a wide array of performances; in 2009, the group created Steampunk Haunted House which focused less on gore than most immersive haunted houses and more on the suspense of the unknown. Last summer, the group recreated a version of New York from the 1980s in the show Behind the City.
More recently, the group is doing Midsummer; A Banquet which will tell Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in an immersive environment during which a real banquet will commence with food being served throughout the night.
9 Dream Think Speak, London
Dream Think Speak is a theater group based in London that is famous for mixing film with live performance. The acting group will have screens along with live actors in a space that blends reality with the stage. Its show "Absent" in 2015 takes place in a hotel, and in a similar fashion to Sleep No More, the audience is free to roam around the maze-like space as they please. It's most recent show "One Day, Maybe" sets its audience in 1980s South Korea. The group has performed in the UK, Russia and Australia.
8 Zombie Burlesque, Las Vegas
Zombies never looked so good! Las Vegas is known for its wacky live entertainment, but Zombie Burlesque is truly in a league of its own. Performed at Las Vegas' Planet Hollywood, the show features a live band, magic tricks, comedy, and of course, burlesque zombies.
For being pretty far out in left-field, the show has been very successful and has received mostly positive feedback. When you need a break from the Poker tables, check out Zombie Burlesque on your next trip to Vegas!
7 Quiet Music Festival, Portland
Classic Portland, always finding ways to go against the grain. Portland's annual "Quiet Music Festival" is a live show that breaks every convention of a music festival. Featured musicians perform music that is soft and relaxing, sometimes even guiding the audience through spiritual meditation. The audience is encouraged to lay down, chill and even sleep during the concert.
While this may not be everyone's cup of chamomile tea, the world's lowest-key concert is a great stop for any Portland hipster looking to take it easy for a night.
6 Windy City Playhouse, Chicago
Much like Sleep no More, Chicago's Windy City Playhouse offers a fully immersive theatrical experience in its show "Southern Gothic". The show's set is a replica of a large house that's hosting a birthday party, and audience members are treated as guests of the party free to roam around the many rooms of the house and watch the actors. As the night goes on, the party becomes less civilized and more chaotic.
Just like Sleep no More, guests create the experience they want - if a certain character resonates with a guest, they can choose to follow that character around from room to room to see how their story unfolds. Essentially, this is a perfect example of a "Choose your own adventure" theater.
5 Downtown Repertory Theater, Las Angeles
LA and Hollywood has always been known for its front-runners of show-business, why wouldn't there be immersive theater there? The Downtown Repertory Theater is currently performing the show "The Assassination of Edgar Allan Poe" at the Heritage Square Museum in LA. Visitors can explore a Victorian mansion and watch Edgar Allan Poe in his final days as many of those around him tried to steal his work and his legacy. The show is a time capsule highlighting one of the most interesting writers of history and is an excellent way to learn about Poe.
4 The Funhouse, Toronto
Toronto's Funhouse offers a new way to experience art and music in a unique, futuristic way. As its website describes, Funhouse visitors start in a "1920s inter-dimensional hotel." They then proceed to an "alternative universe of art, interactive tech and music". Funhouse was created as a collaboration between several different Toronto artists that have blended their works together into one grand experience where visitors are fully immersed in their various works. The amount of talent that has gone into the Funhouse is overwhelming. While not as theatrical as some of the others on this list, Funhouse is a way to surround yourself in artistic expression.
3 Tokyo One Piece Tower, Tokyo
For fans of the popular anime/manga series "One Piece" Tokyo features One Piece Tower, an indoor theme park based on the series. Starting in September, the theme park will be premiering an immersive theater show "When the Box of Time Opens" which is basically "Sleep no More" for anime fans.
The show takes place across every floor of the theme park, and audience members are free to roam around the park among the performers. The audience members are treated as part of the show, and the straw hat pirates of One Piece will often interact with them and bring them into the story.
2 Fruit For The Apocalypse, London
Fruit for the Apocalypse, an acting group based in London, has been known to push the boundaries of what theatrical performance can be. One of the group's projects "Surrealist Taxi" allows audience members call the taxi, get picked up and choose a random playing card that will determine where the taxi will take them. They've also done "The Ballad of Skinny Lattes and Vintage Clothing" which is a six-movement "noise opera" that features different sounds from the city; the show intents to make fun of Europe's modernization.
1 Speakeasy Dollhouse, New York
Speakeasy Dollhouse immerses audience members in the 30s and engages them starting with newspaper articles and emails before the show even begins. Audience members must enter the show using a secret password, and are given a role to play as they enter.The show is an investigative crime piece starting with the death of Frank Spano, owner of a speakeasy. Audience members are encouraged to interact with the performers, which breaks down the barriers between reality and fiction. This is a must-stop for lovers of mystery.