Have you ever been able to touch a set or rifle through the props when you’ve gone to a play? Mostly likely the answer is no, since traditionally, the audience is separate from the stage, behind an imaginary fourth wall that they are not allowed to penetrate. But when I think of theatre on the edge, I think of something that forces us to change the status quo of theatre and experience it in new or different ways.
A British theatre company called Punchdrunk has created a show, “Sleep No More,” which just opened in New York, based around crucial scenes in Shakespeare’s Macbeth that break the fourth wall and invite the audience to become part of the show. The “stage” is broken up into 100s of rooms, each a space for the actors, but also for the audience to fully experience the show by sight, touch, taste, sound, and smell. The audience may inspect the set as if it were a museum and touch it, look in drawers, smell the scents that waft from the different themed rooms, and even taste some candy if they are willing to grab a piece in the “candy shop” room.
Each room has a different theme such as the candy shop mentioned above or the bedroom of Macduff’s children, that build upon the show, while tearing down preconceived notions of how a Shakespearean show should be produced.
The New York Times did a in-depth article on the show and describe in detail several of the rooms that can be experienced during the show. If you would like to read more about “Sleep No More” click on the link below:
To see some pictures from several of the rooms and hear an audio clip describing them click this link: