Hollywood Fringe 2019: Creators Set Immersive Expectations for Each Show

It’s back! That special time of year when immersive audiences are treated to a month-long deluge of new works running the gamut of every tone and style imaginable. Whether you crave emotionally intense one-on-one encounters in a private space, mystery and intrigue on the streets of Los Angeles, or a relaxed evening at the theater where the fourth wall only bends a bit, the 2019 Hollywood Fringe Festival has what you’re looking for. fringe fringe fringe fringe fringe fringe fringe fringe

 

To better inform the expectations of potential ticket buyers and demystify some of the vaguer synopses presented on the Fringe website, Haunting reached out to the creators behind all sixteen productions that have chosen “immersive theatre” as their primary classification to learn what an audience member should expect in terms of involvement, agency, intensity, and potential for physical interaction.

 

Based on their responses, we have distilled quick, straightforward answers to the questions of whether performers speak to participants, whether participants may/must speak to performers, whether a participant’s actions/choices can appreciably affect the experience’s outcome, what physical demands are made of the participants, and what, if any, physical contact is planned between participant and performer. In most cases, when appropriate, these answers are followed by direct quotes from the creators themselves in order to provide context and greater understanding of the way each production operates and illuminate what makes each experience unique. We have also asked each creator to explain, in their own words, what they feel makes their show classifiable as “immersive.” To help experiential seekers of all types, we have organized the productions into three sub-categories: “Solo Experiences,” “Group Immersions,” and “Traditional Theatre with Audience Participation.”

 

Below, you will also find links to each production’s Fringe page, all related social media profiles, and, in the case of some shows, unique features we wanted to highlight. We hope that this article will help to promote safety and awareness during this crowded Fringe season and guide you not only toward shows you’re already primed to enjoy, but introduce you to experiences you wouldn’t normally seek out. That’s what Fringe is all about! So get out there and support some independent and original works in what promises to be an exciting and inspiring Fringe, no matter what flavor of immersive you’re in the mood for!

 

Tickets to these and all other 2019 Hollywood Fringe shows will be on sale beginning Wednesday, May 1st at the Hollywood Fringe website. For a look at some what the Haunting staff is looking forward to this Fringe, check out our 2019 Staff Picks and Recommendations

 

 

Solo Experiences

 

The Pod (Lucid Dramatics/Spy Brunch)

Rated: 21+ for alcohol served as part of the show. Nothing in the way of graphic or extreme content.

Running time: 20 minutes

Price: $30

Provided Synopsis:

Congratulations!
Macora Aerospace and Robotics International has selected you as a candidate for the first-ever human voyage to Proxima Centauri B, a habitable planet located trillions of miles from Earth. But first, both you and your mission partner need to be thoroughly evaluated. We have put together a training simulation that will prepare the two of you for the decades of your life you’ll spend in deep space. Macora engineers have crafted a vessel using advanced laser propulsion technology — informally known as The Pod — that is capable of making this incredible journey in a mere twenty years. There is one catch: The Pod can only carry one human being. Your partner is not human. But we hope she will be the perfect companion. Good luck. We’re counting on you both.

Immersion in their own words:

“After years of working on shows like C(ovell), Safehouse ’77, and The Sideshow, immersive theater is in our DNA and we both gravitate toward immersive whenever we’re thinking about new projects to explore. The Pod draws on influences from many art forms, including traditional theatre, film, video games, and Disney rides. One audience member at a time will be taken through an orientation and training simulation in preparation for deep-space travel. We hope to fully immerse our guests in the near-future sci-fi reality of our story and provide them with a truly transportive experience that allows them to leave their own world behind, even if it’s only for twenty minutes.”

Performers speaking to participants?

Yes.

“They’ll be treated as candidates for an important mission to Proxima Centauri B, the nearest known habitable exoplanet, and multiple characters will interact with them over the course of the show.”

Participants speaking to performers?

Yes.

Since audience members are playing a key role in the story, interaction with the performers will be an important part of the show. But that doesn’t mean that people need to be particularly outgoing in order to have a great experience. In fact, we will be doing our best to customize each performance around the personality and needs of the participant, so whether you’re talkative or shy, we’ll take care of you.

Participants influencing the story’s outcome?

Yes.

Since audience members are taking on the role of candidates being evaluated for deep-space travel, they will be asked questions and conversed with throughout the experience, and they may have the chance to make choices during the show that lead to different outcomes.

Physical demands on the participants?

Walking between a few areas within a single room, sitting.

Physical contact between participant and performer?

Light.

“There may be a limited amount of physical contact, but most of the interaction will be in the form of conversation.”

Unique features: 

“Prior to the show, each audience member will be sent a link to an online questionnaire that is a key part of their “evaluation” and will influence what kind of experience they receive, so we are asking that everyone opt-in for email communication when purchasing tickets. Our goal is for each performance to be unique based on the needs and personality of the audience member, and this will help us greatly in achieving that!”

Social media: Instagram

“That will help prepare audience members for the experience.”

 

 

Tales by Candlelight (Walk the Night/Cantrip Candles)

Rated: 18+

Running time: 70 minutes

Price: $99

Provided Synopsis:

To prepare you for our Journey: This is a tale. A STORY IS WRITTEN; IT IS SET DOWN. BUT A TALE… A TALE IS TOLD; IT IS LIVING, IT GROWS & CHANGES, IN TIME & TELLING. We will tell our tale together. WHAT YOU PUT INTO OUR TALE DETERMINES WHAT YOU GET OUT OF IT – BE IT CONTENT, ENERGY, CONNECTION, OR MORE… THE MORE COMFORTABLE WE ARE, THE EASIER OUR TALE WILL COME. Our tale will be generated from scents. THROUGH YOUR SENSE OF SMELL WE’LL CREATE A WORLD, POPULATE IT WITH MAGICAL PEOPLES & BEINGS, INTERACT WITH THEM, AND FOLLOW AN ADVENTURE… In the end, a candle with a story will find its way to you. We’ll begin with a few simple questions… Your Responses are not binding; Our tale does not depend upon them, but we may draw upon them as we like.

Immersion in their own words:

“Immersive theatre gives audience agency; experiential theatre goes beyond passive presentation to active participation. Our piece is fully interactive, from the purchase of the ticket online, through the primary experience, to the conclusion, which arrives in your mailbox a few weeks after you leave us.”

Performers speaking to participants and participants speaking to performers?

Yes.

You will be spoken to, and in constant dialogue with us. If immersive audiences are thought of as characters in a piece, You have equal ‘billing.’

Participants influencing the story’s outcome?

Yes.

“This piece is intended to exist through dialogue between guide and audience. Should an audience member decide or be unable to speak for any reason and only be able to listen, please inform us beforehand so that we can be ready, to make your experience tailored to you.”

Physical demands on the participant?

Sitting for length of show.

Audiences will be seated for virtually the whole experience: on the patio entrance at a table; in the consultation room.”

Physical contact between participant and performer?

Light to none.

There is no direct contact required or expected. You will be presented with objects to interact with, similar to a wine tasting or tea ceremony.

Unique Features:

“Ticketing will require a survey/submission; the location will only be revealed with an email confirmation for individual sessions; the conclusion will require a shipping address to receive a special, unique package.”

Regarding Accessibility/Communities with Disabilities: 

“Our piece is individually tailored to each audience member; this includes members of communities with disabilities. An opportunity for accommodation requests is provided when engaging online to purchase a ticket. Please email us directly at ATaleByCandlelight@gmail.com with any questions.

Mobility Challenges:

– Accessible parking may be provided with advance notice.

– Our site-specific location has issues: some 5 steps lead to our entrance and prevent us from being ADA-compliant. With proper notice we may be able to rent a ramp, but we request direct communication beforehand.

Language Barriers / Challenges:

– The interactive dialogue that the piece hinges on means we can only easily accommodate English-speaking audience members. Those who require a translator for a solo session may bring someone of their choosing at no extra cost. This includes sign language such as ASL.

For all other challenges (visual / audial / mental / psychological / etc.):

– Visual impairment is easily accommodated. We have many options and are more than happy to start a dialogue.”

Social media: Facebook and Instagram

 

 

 

Internal (They Played Productions)

Rated: 18+

Running time: 45 minutes

Price: $15

Provided Synopsis:

When the zombie apocalypse hits, the truest danger will not come from outside. From They Played Productions (creators of last year’s immersive hit God: the Apologies Tour and HFF16’s horror musical Nothing Bad) comes a brand-new immersive horror tale that you will experience entirely by yourself. Alone on the streets of Hollywood, you will face a darkness that may devour you whole. A darkness that will give you nowhere to turn as it’s all happening directly…to…you.

NOTE: The “tracks” on the ticket page are purely an outcome of the HFF system not allowing staggered start times at one location in their scheduling system. All “tracks” are the same show and any ticket you buy will be the same experience.

Immersion in their own words:

“There’s no theater in this theatrical production. It’s all out on the street. The levels of interaction include listening to some audio, moving through the experience, and interaction with characters.”

Performers speaking to participants?

Yes.

Participants speaking to performers?

Yes.

“Some reaction will be expected, an exchange of dialog ideally, but even if they choose to not speak or fully engage, the scene will continue.”

Participants influencing the story’s outcome?

Yes.

Yes. Movement, some reaction to encounters even if not vocal, continuing along the path.”

Physical demands on the participant?

Walking outdoors on pavement.

“Traveling to and from the corner of Santa Monica and Vine, up and down Vine at night. Ideally a slow walk the whole time. We can likely assist with a wheelchair if needed.”

Physical contact between participant and performer?

Light

“Consenting handshake, shoulder tap, light leading by the elbow at the most.”

Social media: Instagram and Facebook

Group Immersions

 

Vote for Murder! (2Cents Theatre Group)

Rated: 18+

Running time: 75 minutes

Provided Synopsis:

Attention Student Boddy,

Principal Wadsworth here and we have some exciting announcements for the upcoming school year!

The creators of Unreal City (2018 Winner Best in Immersive Theatre) challenge you to vote for the best and slay the rest at this year’s Senior Class President elections! Someone has decided to play dirty and the votes have turned to MURDER. Silence the competition by rallying behind your favorite representative! Will they survive the night or take out the other candidates one by one in a student council grudge match for the ages?

Solve and collect clues, perform tasks, commit murders, save your fellow classmates, and interrogate suspects to find which candidate is trying to steamroll their peers on their way to the top. Are you in cahoots with a killer or are we truly stronger together?

In Vote for Murder, you either vote or you die! This is a sandbox immersive experience/co-operative RPG inspired by Clue, Mafia, and other party games.

Lastly, for all you over-achievers (I’m looking at you Yvette!), find the candidates shaking hands and kissing babies around Fringe Central and you may find yourself with a leg up come election time!

Have a killer day seniors!
Principal Wadsworth

Immersion in their own words:

“Vote for MURDER! is an entirely interactive experience where the audience will have free reign to explore the location (the school) as they wish, search for clues, interrogate suspects, attempt “murder” and more. This is a sandbox-style immersive experience/RPG with the energy of a live-action escape room. Only you’re not trying to escape.. you’re trying to catch a killer!”

Performers speaking to participants?

Yes.

Participants speaking to performers?

Yes.

“Yes, interaction with the actors is strongly encouraged, but audience members will be assigned to teams so they don’t need to travel alone.”

Participants influencing the story’s outcome?

Yes.

“Audience will be assigned to teams, so if someone wishes to just listen and observe, they can take a nonactive position on their team and just follow along with their group. However, participation will allow the audience member to have more of an affect on the outcome of the game.”

Physical demands on the participant?

Walking, standing, sitting, possibly crawling.

“Walking is required in order to fully participate in this experience. The audience will have the option to explore the school in whatever ways they choose, which may include crawling or running. They will be able to sit at times. Mostly wheelchair accessible.”

Physical contact between participant and performer?

Light.

Possible non-threatening casual contact.

Unique features:

“Audience members will receive email correspondence once they purchase their ticket, preparing them for the upcoming Election! They will be assigned their team and given information about their candidate. They might even receive messages from the candidates themselves… Audience should also be on the lookout for candidates campaigning (and clue-dropping?) around Fringe Central throughout the Festival!”

Social media: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

 

 

Rock Band Murder Mystery (Some Company)

Rated: 21+ Elements of or references to drug use, alcohol, cigarette smoking, violence, sex, prostitution, gambling, the occult and the usual bad behavior associated with rock and roll (mostly simulated).

Running time: 2 hour

Price: $40

Provided Synopsis:

Have fun living your rock n’ roll fantasy or exercise your inner sleuth and figure out whodunnit before time runs out. Who killed rock and roll? Find out in this highly interactive, 360º immersive murder mystery. This interactive, immersive show focuses on a roarin’ rock band and their entourage. All participants assume the pre-generated personas of the band, manager, roadie, groupies, and other members of the crew. You interact with each other against a deadly threat, and one of you might even be a murderer! Can the show go on??

Immersion in their own words:

“Our location exactly represents what it is; a groovy studio in Hollywood. Almost everything is what it really is, except that real instruments are represented by Rock Band/Guitar Hero video game controllers. If you want to get a taste of the rock and roll lifestyle, join us! It’s not only immersive, but interactive. Like the party games Werewolf and Mafia, YOU are there to figure out whodunnit, or absolve yourself of your crime. How this ends is entirely up to the participants.”

Performers speaking to participants?

Yes.

Participants speaking to performers?

Yes.

The audience are the stars of the show. There is a plot and “injects” as they call them in disaster simulations, that moves the narrative along. These are timed events, but what happens before, during, and after them is up to the participants.”

Participants influencing the story’s outcome?

Yes.

The piece will reach one of a few different endings if the audience does nothing, but it will be hella boring!

Physical demands on the participant?

Standing and walking, at one point up stairs.

“Audiences need to walk up stairs to the venue. They are not expected to do anything else, but they can if they choose. The venue has a live-in cat who won’t be present for shows.”

Physical contact between participant and performer?

Light.

There may be contact, but we will have safety guidelines to follow as well as monitors to make sure everyone is having a good time.

Unique Features:

Audience members will have simple pre-made characters to play; the band members, roadies, groupies, etc. First come first served on choices when purchasing tickets for each individual show. No experience necessary with role-playing, acting, larping, improv, musical ability, etc. Each show will feature a different murderer, so repeat attendance is OK. Also, this works great for groups/partiers! Snacks will be provided.

 

 

 

Boxing Your Demons (Crooked Grin Productions)

Rated: 18+ for mature themes

Running time: 70 minutes

Price: $20-$30

Provided Synopsis:

BOXING YOUR DEMONS is a new Larpen Lifestyle Solution created by Guy and Sheila Larpen that combines fitness, nutrition, spirituality, yoga, fitness, cardio, skincare, health, beauty, wellness, dreamsculpting, fitness, the sweet science of boxing, and non-traditional traditional therapy, to finally say BYE BYE to moral hypocrisy.

America has been experiencing a profound occurrence of cognitive dissonance. The traditional idea of America as land of the free, a leader of democracy and morality in the world, has been thrust up against modern realities. Increasingly public foreign and domestic atrocities are forcing us, as a nation, to reconcile these two Americas, and it’s proving difficult. The brain does not like cognitive dissonance; the state of having inconsistent or directly conflicting thoughts or attitudes. Studies have shown that the brain will act to protect itself, removing memories or altering logic in order to resolve the problem. But how do we as a nation, and as individuals, face our reality with clarity? How do we go about deciding what ideas to keep and what to let go? How do we resolve the moral hypocrisies of our own lives, the ways we are complicit within enforcing two opposing value systems?

Immersion in their own words:

“The show is immersive because there is interaction between audience and performers, and the audience lives in the world of the show; a participatory workshop in fighting the nation’s sense of cognitive dissonance through fitness, health, beauty, astrology, and other scientifically-tested methods. #gratitude #blessed”

Performers speaking to participants?

Yes.

Participants speaking to performers?

Yes.

There will be opportunities to speak, clearly delineated.

Participants influencing the story’s outcome?

No.

Participation is not required, other than moving where the audience needs to move, and sitting or standing when requested to.

Physical demands on the participant?

Sitting, Standing, Walking. 

“A degree of mobility to perform physical exercise is encouraged, but not required. The mobility to walk, stand, and sit is required.”

Physical contact between participant and performer?

Possible light to moderate.

There will be physical contact requested from performers at times, but not required.

Social media: Instagram and Facebook

 

 

 

 

Ascend: When Myths Fall, Heroes Rise (Hidden Realms)

Rated: 12+

Running time: 2 Hours

Price: $20-$35

Provided Synopsis:

The gods of four great mythological pantheons (Greek, Egyptian, Maya, & Chinese) call on you, their lost demigod children, to save them from an ancient threat. However, some of the gods have their own plans for this rising power. Go on quests to find the truth about the gods, prove yourself in divine challenges and ultimately decide how this story ends.

Many key narrative plot points and endings are entirely dependent on the choices of the demigod audience. The demigod audience may follow several suggested narrative paths through this multi-room production, but are encouraged to forge a path of their own throughout the evening in this theme park-like experience.

Before the show each demigod audience member will be asked to complete a short personality quiz revealing who their godly parent is, as well as what special power they’ve inherited. Throughout the experience, the demigod audience can participate in different branching quests and challenges such as archery and mummification before aiding the gods in a final battle.

Immersion in their own words:

“The experience has a structured base narrative and set cast, but the audience determines how the story plays out, including the fate of characters, the outcome of events, and even the ending. Attendees do not just watch, but have personal interactions with characters through conversations, quests, and games throughout the experience.”

Performers speaking to participants?

Yes.

“More than half the show is sand-box based, where audience members are encouraged to explore and talk to different gods and goddesses, completing interactive challenges and going on quests as they wish.”

Participants speaking to performers?

Yes.

They’ll be speaking to individual performers for the long majority of the night. The show opens and closes with a ceremony which audience members will witness, but the entire middle section of the show is very interactive. They may also be asked to charm, poison, heal, steal from, help, or hinder the cast of gods.

Participants influencing the story’s outcome?

Yes.

“Many individual characters’ endings, as well as the larger plot ending for the event, is determined based on audience members’ individual choices throughout the night. There are quests (and counter quests) audience members can go on that will influence different characters’ arcs and personalities, as well as how the evening ends for them.

At the very end of the show, without giving away too much, audience members join forces with the gods and partake in a (non-contact, game-ified) battle between two sides – Revolution and Order. Each audience member participates. Depending on who wins, the ending for every character (oh, and fate of the world) is changed.”

Physical demands on the participant?

Mostly standing/moving around the space.

They will likely be on their feet the whole show. We’re planning on having some seating for audience members who want to rest their feet for a bit, but audience members are expected to be pretty active on their feet. Some of our interactive challenges, such as archery, will require audience members to move around more, but these challenges and games are also optional in the experience.”

Physical contact between participant and performer?

Light.

None is required. Only as much as you would expect from a conversation with a friend – past interactions have included occasional hugs, pats on the shoulder, and similar casual behavior. Performers are cautious of not invading audience members’ comfort zone – if you don’t look like you want a hug, we won’t give you one.

Unique features:

“Before the event, audience members will be asked to complete a short personality quiz that will tell them who they are a godly parent of (once you buy a ticket, you are revealed to be a demigod – lucky you!), as well as what special power they’ve inherited they can use during the production. These four “powers” are unique to different godly parents, and give different audience members access to different parts of the show.”

Social media: Instagram and Facebook

 

 

Best Night Ever: A Bachelor(ette) Night (Katnip Productions, #MetaForYou, Bees Knees)

Rated: 21+ for serving alcohol and mature themes.

Running time: 1 hour

Price: $50

Provided Synopsis:

It’s the big night before the big day, the last fling before the ring, the last ride before she’s a bride. You’re invited to join the soon-to-be-wed couple on an exciting limo ride through the streets of Hollywood in this immersive, interactive bachelor/bachelorette party experience where nothing is off limits… except maybe the stripper.

Audience members become bridesmaids or groomsmen of the bachelor or bachelorette parties and board a limousine filled with free drinks (and, for the bachelorette, penis paraphernalia). As the drinks flow, so does all of the drama. Will they or won’t they? It’s all up to you in this fully interactive experience where the audience holds the fate of the fiancées in their hands.

Immersion in their own words:

“Best Night Ever is completely immersive – the audience members join our characters as members of a wedding party in a fully interactive bachelor or bachelorette night.”

Performers speaking to participants?

Yes.

Participants speaking to performers?

Yes.

“Audience members will have full conversations with performers, and audience choices will affect the events of the show.”

Participants influencing the story’s outcome?

Yes.

“The show is definitely built for lots of audience interaction, but if an audience member who feels shy or introverted chooses to hang back and watch the action, that is fine too – just like at a real party!”

Physical demands on the participant?

Riding in a limo.

“Audience members will arrive at a bar for check-in and will be picked up by limousines, in which the bulk of the performance will take place. Audience members need to be able to get in and out of a vehicle.”

Physical contact between participant and performer?

Light.

“Since audience members are ‘cast’ as friends of the characters, some friend-like contact may happen – nothing more intense than a light, friendly hug.”

Unique features:

“During the run of the show, people will be able to get a sneak peek through social media, such as live Instagram stories recorded by characters and audience members in the limo, which will be a component of the show.”

 

 

Tethered (InHouse Theatre Company)

Rated: 13+

Runnin