The woman in front of me faces a blurry projection on the hotel room wall and starts an odd dance-like movement that instinctually makes me shiver. She rocks back onto her heels, and onto the tips of her toes. She looks behind her, turns around as if looking for something, and then returns to her twisted waltz. These movements, while intensely strange, ring familiar in my mind. It’s not until the projection on the wall focuses in on a building marked with a sign reading Cecil Hotel that I piece together why I may have seen these exact movements before. Stay on the Line.
Stay on The Line includes an unsettling, yet somehow tender, remembrance of Elisa Lam. In February of 2013, her body was mysteriously found decomposing in a water tank at the Cecil Hotel – renamed Stay on Main after being unable to shake the infamy of her death, as well as other unsavory moments in its history. Elisa Lam was last seen alive in video surveillance footage of her making these very strange movements in the hotel’s elevator, stepping in and out as the door unexplainably remained open for the several-minute duration of her frantic movements.
Stay on The Line is a single-guest immersive experience based in Chicago, which has returned after a sold-out first-year run last Halloween. This year they’ve done it once again; tickets sold out within the first few days.
Whitney Currier, Nicole Faust and Emily Sharp return with nine new storylines built for a single guest to experience, two stories per visit. This year, they invite guests to step into a hotel room at The Martin (a performance space located in West Town in the WOW district of Chicago) and experience two back-to-back storylines inspired by the wild and private world of hotels and what can go on behind closed doors.
With a fairly sparse environment and zero artifices, the team behind Stay on The Line manages to inspire awe and create palpable tension, with precise movement, emotive body language, and thoughtful story. The two narratives that I experienced were STAY ON MAIN (the new title for the hotel post death of Elisa Lam) and DEAD GIRLS DON’T LAUGH, a story inspired by the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and the death of Grace E. Magro, another woman who met her end at the Cecil Hotel/Stay on Main.
Both experiences took me on a journey through wonder, anxiety and fear, all in a span of 20 minutes. While this year’s run has sold out, be sure to keep an eye out for more works from these very talented actors. And, of course, grab tickets to Stay on The Line’s remount next Halloween season.
For more information on events at The Martin Chicago, visit their website.