A the beginning of December B and I went to Boston. The reason is sort of fairy tale. We went to to see a play. B had been in Boston a few weeks previous for work and saw London's Punchdrunk Theatre's Sleep No More put on by ART. (The beautiful Amanda Atkin's talked about it here. I happened to send this post to B while he was away and thought "oh this sounds interesting. I would love to see it if it were here in Chicago." And thought no more of it.) B came home from his trip and asked if I would go to Boston with him in a few weeks to see this play (B never sees anything more than once). it was that good. I said ok. I wish I had pictures or video or could send you all tickets to see Sleep No More. I wish I lived in this play. If you live in Boston and you do not go see this (It has been extended through Feb 7, 2010!) SHAME ON YOU! and I can NEVER be friends with you. Punchdrunk does experiential theatre which means that the audience does not sit and watch a performance they are part of a performance and so experience the story as part of the story. Sleep No More is a telling of the story of Macbeth combined with a small bit of Hitchcock's version of DuMaurier's Rebecca. (The second Mrs. DeWinter is the King's wife and Mrs. Danver's is the MacBeth's housekeeper) The performance took place in an abandoned school building in Brookline. Think 4 floors, lots of hallway, many rooms, several flights of stairs. The audience members all don masks. Think Eyes wide Shut. You are then taken into the school in small groups and dropped off at different floors. There is no talking allowed and masks must be worn at all times. You roam around, in and out of all the rooms which are set up with meticulous attention to detail to be the rooms of the MacBeth household, outdoor spaces, speakeasys, a post office/travel agency. Some rooms have no action in them so you are free to explore and let your voyeuristic tendencies take over. go through drawers, read letters, open closets, sit on chairs and couches. (I also felt slightly Klepto in the space as there were so many wonderful things around) Some rooms have action in them. The characters portraying a scene. The performers are also dancers and there are very few if any actually lines, which are not missed in the slightest, but there are laughs and grunts and sighs and cries. you watch part of a sea of white masked ghosts all watching too. You get in close with the characters and when one leaves a room you follow. You race, literally running sometimes to keep up and find yourself in another place in another scene in another part of the story. Or you find another scene happening somewhere else. Some characters reward you for your loyalty in following them with little gifts, a charm to ward off evil, an envelope full of sand, or will devote special attention to you, give you the honor of wrapping their shawl around them or take you by the hand into another room alone. The veil between worlds breaks. Scenes happen simultaneously, like they would in real life. You do this for 3 hours. it is dreamlike and surreal. The sights as well as the light, sound and smell all work to transport you.
B bought tickets in advance for thursday night. I asked if we could go again on standby the next night and we got in. 2 nights in a row I spent exploring this world and drinking it in in gulps. i dreamed for a week in the colors of this world. I had a love affair with one character and an intensely personal moment with another (which involved the two of us being momentarily stuck behind a falling door). have I mentioned that I want to live in this play? or at least keep it in a box on my dresser and escape into like Jeannie's bottle when I need a break from reality. Ah-mazing. Well worth the price as it was a bit pricey ticket wise but I also bet it was extremely pricey production wise because everything was just so perfect. I even came home with fake blood on my skirt from the witches gathering. I have Punchdrunk on my radar for when I eventually make it to London because it seems like all the productions they do are experiential like this.

1 comment:

Amanda Atkins said...

What an excellent synopsis!! I'm so glad you got to go, and that you loved it so much!!! I'm glad you got to see it twice, too - I feel like it definitely needs to be seen more than once so everything can be taken in! It's such an experience.

I love the first picture you took of the whole city, too. it's so beautiful! What else did you do while you were in Boston? I want to hear all about it!