A Conversation with Erik Blair and Thea Rivera on Immersive Theater

Below is an interview with Erik Blair and Thea Rivera of They Played Productions spanning immersive theater, audience participation, and future plans for their company. Many thanks to Kevin Hsu for filming the interview and Jon Kobryn for editing it.


LARPing and Ren Faire and improv, oh my! Erik Blair and Thea Rivera of They Played Productions have all the experience you could want from immersive theater creators. Their varied backgrounds culminated in Captivated: Act One—Justine, one of the more innovative immersive shows of 2018. Blair and Rivera recently sat down with Haunting to discuss their experience and plans for They Played Productions.


There’s certainly a lot of cross-pollination among performance forms, according to Blair: “I think what we bring to the immersive community tends to be based on what we’ve learned” in LARPs and other immersive formats. It’s there, he says, where creators have already devised excellent working solutions to currently contentious issues about audience consent and balancing audience input with authorial control. Blair and Rivera are both committed to letting guests genuinely impact the narrative—rather than merely being mobile presences amidst an inflexible story. But occasionally they butt up against rather enthusiastic audience members who want to commandeer the show themselves.


Two more acts of Captivated are forthcoming, and the creators are aware that future guests may not have experienced the first act. However, future audiences can rest assured Act Two will feature an opening that immediately engrosses old hats and new. The sequel will cover “what should be a tremendously somber situation…” but They Played Productions has already built a reputation of inverting audience expectations.


Blair and Rivera also discuss other projects they’re cooking up at various stages of conception—some comedic, others political. You’ll want to stay tuned. While you wait for whatever comes next from this exciting company currently in its sophomore year, you can watch our full interview with them below.

About The Author

Eliot Bessette
Eliot became smitten with haunts after attending ALONE in 2015. He is fortunate to think about fear for a living. As a doctoral candidate in Film and Media at UC Berkeley, he teaches courses on horror films and sluggishly writes a dissertation on fear in horror films and haunts.

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