Forced Experiences: Shifting modes of audience involvement in immersive performances
Kolesch, Doris; Schütz, Theresa – 2022
The chapter provides a short overview of the broad variety of immersive performances in the twenty-first century, explaining that spatial configurations between spectators and actors are currently multiplying, as are modes of addressing and involving audience members. Rejecting the often-heard accusation of neoliberal methods in immersive theatre audience practices, we argue that the form offers new ways of self-reflexivity. Analysing the performance of SIGNA’s Sons & Sons as an example, the chapter demonstrates how the specificity of audience involvement in contemporary immersive performances – experiencing the physical dimensions of the perception of space, the empathy with the represented world through tasting, touching, smelling or through intimate conversations and intense eye contact with the performers, even the demand to follow concrete action orders – allows spectators to learn about themselves and the world by being spatially, fictionally, multi-sensorily, emotionally and situationally engaged in the performance event through strategies of forced experiences. In this way, immersive performances can be analysed as theatrical situations for shaping and experiencing complex, social-relational dynamics of reciprocal modes of affecting and being affected.