Before I started working with Imagination Workshop and Interactive Theatre International, I had never heard of interactive theatre. It was completely a foreign concept. After seeing Faulty Towers the Dining Experience, I knew that more people from the States needed to experience this type of entertainment. So when I got the opportunity to take seven of my closest friends from school to The Wedding Reception, I was beyond excited.
Back in the States, you don’t hear too many people talk about theatre. When I think of typical American outings, sport games, concerts, dinner parties, and even bowling come to mind before theatre ever enters the picture. Perhaps this is because of my specific group of friends, geographical location, or influence from my parents, but you would rarely hear anyone talk about going to a play on the weekends.
After extending the invite, I was met with many “What is interactive theatre?” and “I don’t get it…” Even after explaining what interactive theatre was, my friends were extremely sceptical to say the least. What kind of night were they about to get themselves into?
Needless to say, all seven of my friends enjoyed themselves tremendously during The Wedding Reception. Everyone was smiling throughout the entire show, and some even cried from laughing so hard. So are Americans actually incompatible with interactive theatre, or is it simply the lack of exposure that has created this divided relationship? I asked my two friends, Mary and Ian, to better find out.
Q: Mary and Ian, what were your expectations for your experience at The Wedding Reception?
Mary: “I expected the show to be separate from the dinner, and didn’t realize that the dinner was an actual part of The Wedding Reception. When I walked into the hotel and the concierge asked if I was there for the wedding, I was a bit confused.”
Ian: “Same, I thought it was going to be more of a stage set up instead of both the dinner and show being in the same room. I also didn’t expect the show to start while in the bar area, I had no idea who was an actor and who wasn’t at first.”
Mary: “Yeah, I didn’t realize that the actors were going to walk around, talk to us and that we were going to be an actual part of the show.”
Q: Had either of you heard of interactive theatre before?
Mary: “Nope! Never.”
Ian: “I had, but I didn’t really know much about it besides the name.”
Q: Why do you think interactive theatre isn’t as popular in the States as it is in London?
Ian: “Hmm…America is more dependent on digital entertainment, like movies for example. I also think that theatre in general isn’t too much of our ‘style.’”
Q: After seeing The Wedding Reception, would you recommend an interactive show, like The Wedding Reception, to your friends back in America?
Mary: “I definitely would, it’s fun to be a part of the action. Sometimes at shows, even ones I really like, I get a bit bored or tired at points, but with the interactive theatre you’re always being entertained or having fun with your friends. You can laugh and talk about what’s going on, it’s more of an ‘experience’ than just watching a show.”
Q: Lastly, what was your favourite part of The Wedding Reception?
Ian: “I liked the beginning when the bride entered and the groom was on his phone; it was all fun and games.”
Mary: “My favourite part was dancing with the cast at the end. I also loved when the best man was drunk, got naked and started touching Ian’s hair.”
Ian: Laughing, “Yeah, I don’t think that was my favourite part.”
Written by Shelby Lewis, Marketing Intern- fresh from Pasadena, Southern California, and advertising student at Boston University