Immersion Theater: The Stage’s Answer to Choose Your Own Adventures

Punchdrunk "...and Darkness Descended" [8487]

In “Choose Your Own Adventure: Sleep No More“, Andrea writes about Sleep No More, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, by an immersive theater company Punchdrunk. Punchdrunk is a theater company that creates performances in unconventional spaces and creates an audience interactive theater experience. In Andrea’s post, she likens Sleep No More to a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. I completely agree. You can head over to her post and read more about that particular production and my comment on how it functions as a CYOA versus the novels.

I want to talk more about this idea of theater as another medium for the Choose Your Own Adventure genre. To me, it is obvious that theater can function as an extension of the genre. CYOANs function on the narrative. Theater also functions on the narrative. But the unique thing about theater in this genre is the incorporation of the audience. In class we talk a lot about the immersion of the gamer within the game and how it effects one’s experience and enjoyment of the game. In immersive theater, and specifically with Punchdrunk, the audience plays a major role in the telling of the narrative. In this form of theater it is not enough for the audience to sit and observe, but they must also walk around and engage with the world the actors create, alongside the actors but also at the edge of it all, never losing their role as voyeur. With this form of theater, most audiences report feeling completely involved and enthralled in the productions in ways that they’ve never been with more traditional theater. They often report their experiences as overwhelmingly positive and “10/10 would recommend”. So it is interesting to then think, with our discussion of the need to be immersed in a game whilst gaming, does this then constitute immersive theater as a game, as someone asserted in a post (sorry I can’t remember which post or even which blog) that CYOANs should too be classified games.

To bring this discussion back around to video games (because I fear i’m rambling and losing my point), I’ll leave you all with another interesting production from. In 2011, in London, Punchdrunk partnered up with Sony PlayStation to create an immersive experience inspired by and to promote the release of Resistance 3. The production took place in the tunnels underneath Waterloo train station, which they transformed into a post-apocalyptic world for the audience.

Punchdrunk "...and Darkness Descended" [8487]

Groups of audience members were “told to stick together as they struggled to send a message to the allies. The longer [they] survived the more [they’d] see.”  Here are some links (

Resistance3 Punchdrunk Promo

One thought on “Immersion Theater: The Stage’s Answer to Choose Your Own Adventures

Leave a Reply