Sweet Dreams - Part Two - Just A Dream by Shine On Collective

Quick taste of things to come in this short dreamlike experience.

Experienced: July 29, 2017
Location: Midsummer Scream 2017
Address: Long Beach Convention Center
Price: Free (with Midsummer Scream 2017 admission)
Audience Size: 1-4
Runtime: 5 minutes
More Information: Shine On Collective Site, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook

This year’s Shine On Collective showing at Midsummer Scream had significantly more capacity than last year’s one on one experience at the two Halloween conventions (Midsummer Scream and ScareLA). Those shows relied on a signup sheet that would likely have gotten full in minutes as their audience has grown significantly over the year. This time around there was a queue and 4 people at a time would go inside a tent to experience a short 5 minute show.

Shine On Collective

In Part One we met Philip, an intense and slightly disturbed individual, who is looking for his lost love. We later met Rose in a dream sequence and we weren’t sure if she was alive, dead, lost, captured, or something else completely. Part Two is another dream sequence.

After crawling into the tent the four of us were instructed to lay down on a blanket and put on the sleeping mask sitting on a pillow. As we lay there headphones were put on our head and momentarily the show began.

It was the voice of Rose as she tells a story. It’s implied that she is still alive. There were some moments where you feel someone brushing up against your skin during the dream. Another moment someone pressed down on my chest before a heavy blanket was laid on my chest. I thought this blanket was a person pushing down on me and was holding my breath for the longest time until I realized it wasn’t going away. The weight was a nice touch to add a bit of tension to my dream.

At one point in the audio you are told to raise up a hand. This was reminiscent of a sequence in last year’s Alone Experience at Scare LA. My finger was “pricked” and a band-aid was wrapped around it. I later noticed that there was a phone number on it. It was a subtle and effective way of continuing the story beyond the show.

Ultimately this show succeeded in setting up the world and acted as a teaser for the full show coming in October. Hopefully many first timers were won over by this unique form of storytelling but will likely not have any idea what is to come. This teaser was more of an immersive podcast listening experience.

The headphones I had were too low for me to pay close attention to the dream sequence as it was hard to hear over the noises of the showroom floor. Nevertheless I enjoyed the show and will be looking forward to Part Three in October!

Alone [An Existential Evocation] by The Alone Experience

Delightfully bizarre encounter with a human photocopier of memories.

Experienced: July 29, 2017
Location: Midsummer Scream 2017
Address: Long Beach Convention Center
Price: Free (with Midsummer Scream 2017 admission)
Audience Size: 1
Runtime: 10-20 minutes (not including figuring out the starting point)
More Information: The Alone Experience site, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook

Figuring out how to start your experience is always a big part of Alone’s convention shows. This time there was a cryptic description in the show guide but no booth number, no instructions, no hint as to where to begin at all. They are elusive and must be ok with the chance of no one showing up at all.

We knew to look for a triangle. It’s been their staple for as long as I’ve been following them. Usually a white neon light shaped like a triangle. We went storming the showroom floor looking for a triangle in hopes of a starting point. After going down the aisles we bumped into someone who had already found a questionnaire. We got a hint on the vicinity of the starting point.

After finding it we had to laugh about passing the booth by our first time around. It was an upside-down table with a black tablecloth and two chairs- easy to miss if you aren’t paying close attention. There was pink tape in the shape of a triangle with a stack of papers and some pens. We filled out the self assessment questionnaire of 20 questions (form 7c) related to attention and memory. The only instruction at the bottom was to “submit this form to one of our roaming counselors who will shepherd you upon your path to inculcation”.

Where to go from here? We walked around the showroom floor for a bit and I saw a guy in a lab coat who was suspiciously checking out random nearby props. Could this be a counselor? I mustered up the courage to ask the complete stranger “are you a roaming counselor?” When I had to repeat myself I was convinced I had the wrong guy.

We finally gave up and left the showroom floor and went upstairs. After walking some more we noticed a man with a clipboard. Sure enough the clipboard had a similar form to the one we filled out. We noticed another counselor, handed form 7c to both counselors separately, and split up. Their approach to form intake was completely different. One was very conversational and light hearted providing his own anecdotes while the other was very serious and almost clinical in nature. Both recorded us describe a vivid childhood memory on a handheld tape recorder.

The one on one with the processor was interesting with questions like:

  • “do you usually remember details of what happens or the feelings you experienced?”
  • “do you remember your memories through first person or do you see it play out in front of you?”
  • “what did you do on this day last year?”

Some questions were followed up with “why do you think that is?” There was a lot of opportunity to reflect and be introspective.

After going through the form I was led to a curtained off area. I was standing in front of a black curtain waiting patiently when the curtain opened and before I could see anybody a large piece of paper was taped around my head. This acted as sort of a blindfold since all you could see was a large piece of paper directly in front of your eyes.

I was then led to sit on a chair for the inculcation. I sat for a few minutes listening to a heavily processed voice speaking over tense electronic music. The voice was speaking about memories and how our existence is based on a memory and what is real and not real is all subjective and dependent on our memory of it. It spoke of how we are just a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy of a memory. Or something like that. Ironically I’ve forgotten the details.

At about the time I started to hear the voice repeat I was forced up out of the chair.

The curtained off area was very small so I thought it was over but I was led to a door. I couldn’t see the door since the paper mask helmet thing was on my head this whole time but my hand was forced to knock. I kept knocking and eventually the door opened. I stood there for a moment hearing the familiar mechanical droning sounds that I’ve come to associate with Alone. It’s a part of many of their experiences and memories were rushing into my head. I was pulled inside and the door shut and it was dark.

I was forced to lay down on the floor with my head in between the speakers with the sounds. There were some strobe lights of mostly white and some other colors red and blue I think. It was very clear to me though that I was physically being photocopied. As I lay there someone started slapping pieces of paper onto my leg. Lifting my leg up, wrapping it with paper, taping it together. Other pieces were taped to various spots like my stomach and my arm.

I kept awkwardly trying to hold my water bottle and finally the person just took it out of my hand. After finishing the photocopy process I was helped up and my water bottle was put back into my hand. They proceeded to tape the bottle into my hand.

Moments like this are what make Alone great. It made me laugh as it acknowledged my ongoing concern for this water bottle with a “here you go, we didn’t forget it, let me tape this onto you so you will never, ever, lose it!”

I was led out of the dark room and someone started to poke eye holes into the face mask so I could finally see as I was gently pushed back into the lobby of Midsummer Scream.

At these conventions Alone excels at generating word of mouth. People exiting this experience have a large paper mask on their head of somebody else’s photocopied face. It’s very noticeable and people nearby inevitably ask “what is that?” From what I can see Saturday had a consistent flow of people going through the form intake process. By Sunday there was a line oftentimes 5 or 6 deep waiting to be processed.

The Alone Experience never fails to try something new and are always thinking outside of the box with their shows. I am so thankful to have Alone back even if only for 10-20 minutes. I look forward to whatever they have in store for us in the future!

The Alone Experience

The System Workshop B459-LA by The Lust Experience

Thought provoking and controversial pop-up event in Skid Row.

Experienced: July 29, 2017
Location: Undisclosed
Address: Skid Row, Los Angeles, CA
Price: Free (with purchase to The System)
Audience Size: 30-50 (estimate)
Runtime: 60-90 minutes
More Information: The Lust Experience site, Noah Sinclair site, Instagram, Facebook

Two days before this event an email went out to those who purchased tickets to The System inviting them to a “workshop” that would be 60-90 minutes long. We were asked to respond by 9pm if we would like to attend. Despite the short notice a nice sized group of people showed up to this event. We were told it would be in Downtown LA and would be given an exact address 30 minutes before it started.

I’m not intimately familiar with Downtown LA and didn’t realize the address was in Skid Row. When I got to the destination I admit I was a bit taken aback. While trying to find street parking there were multiple tents with people living in them on every street. I skipped one open spot because there was large (presumably human) fecal matter that I would have had to run over. Poor me and my car right? I would later find The System works in mysterious ways.

There were some moments of awkwardness with Sarah Sinclair sitting on a table intently observing us mingle before things started. There was a letter from Noah who couldn’t be bothered to show up in person to this event as he let Sarah and Andy (who was confuseddude on the forums before he followed Noah to a cult sacrifice before having his life changed by Noah and The System) run the workshop. There was some pairing up of participants with strangers as we were forced to give up something on our person to the other to keep forever. But the meat of this event was to follow.

We were each given varying random denominations of cash ($1, $5, or $10) and were told we had 30 minutes to make a difference with that money. We were told to share it on social media with #TheSystemSaves. Andy and Sarah made it very clear that they did not care what we did with the money at all. Just to make a difference.

The Lust Experience

People handled this choice differently. Some used it to buy drinks for themselves (while using their own money to buy drinks for others in the bar), some used it to buy water or lottery tickets for the homeless, and others bought random things for no apparent reason at all. I’m sure some just pocketed the money outright. Who would know?

After we met back up in the workshop space Sarah and Andy spoke about how things are valued differently by everyone. We were told that there would be a man outside with something that may be completely useless to us but could be a huge deal for another. For some reason I had thought this was a metaphor and that we were supposed to do a task similar to the one we had just finished. I was overthinking it.

When we went outside we saw Morgan (the newly revealed leader of The Resistance) unpacking his car with boxes and boxes of sack lunches. For me this was a very touching, melancholy, and subdued reveal that Morgan and Noah have been talking and might possibly be on the same side to fight the OSDM. It felt like a great act of charity to let us do what we wanted with this sack lunch. Especially after many had seemingly failed to make a difference in the last exercise with the money. I believe everyone (save for one or two) went out passing the sack lunches to the multitudes of homeless living in their tents in all directions from the venue.

Ending this event on that note was pitch perfect and I was extremely happy with the awareness The Creators had for the location for their event. Maybe I missed the point but to put on a show in Skid Row and not acknowledge that we are all consuming (and in their case making) art in the middle of an impoverished area would have felt insensitive.

There is some controversy with this event because some felt that this piece was exploitative to those less fortunate in the surrounding area. I wholeheartedly disagree. It was completely up to the participants involved “how” to actually make a difference with what we were given. No one was forced to periscope the actual act of giving. No one was forced to try and spread The System to unsuspecting bystanders. If that type of behavior doesn’t feel right in retrospect: practice some self reflection and don’t participate in it next time. Learn from your mistakes. Become a better person. Adapt to the world around you.

The System indeed works in mysterious ways. And maybe it doesn’t fit the macho Noah Sinclair persona completely but who knows at this point- the story isn’t written yet. What I do know is that my eyes were completely opened up to another world. Another reality not an alternate one. One that I would shy away from at all costs yet I engaged with on a personal level because of The Lust Experience.

I think everyone who attended this show will have a lot to say about it for years to come. Thought provoking art like this doesn’t come around often (especially in immersive theater) but I’m glad to say I got to experience it.

The System by The Lust Experience [Tickets]

Tickets are going fast get them now!.

Dates: August 13, 2017
Location: Undisclosed
Address: Los Angeles, CA
Price: $29.99-$99.99 tickets here
More Information: The Lust Experience site, Noah Sinclair site, Instagram, Facebook

The moment many of us in the immersive community have been waiting for is almost here. All systems go for Noah Sinclair’s “The System”!

When the sophomore season of The Tension Experience started we were introduced to Noah Sinclair’s The System. A character from the past appeared out of nowhere with a brash self help website that promised to teach us to “get yours before they get theirs” through seminars starting in May but there were some, ahem, complications with Noah going off the rails at a focus group before ultimately getting picked up by the cops.

The Lust Experience

Needless to say there is a lot going on with The Lust Experience (you can get caught up with a summary from a recent email or by going to this forum topic). Just to be clear you don’t need to be caught up on everything to enjoy the live events. Don’t feel overwhelmed if you can’t (or don’t want to) keep up with the ongoing story. I wasn’t following the story closely last year for The Tension Experience but enjoyed it enough to go through Ascension (their live ticketed event) twice.

Note this is the first ticketed pop up event for The Lust Experience. If last year is any indication the story is building up to a larger scale event that will likely take place in the September-November timeframe. If you want to delve into the world of ARGs with some live events this might be your ticket!

The Sudden Loneliness Gift - Soul food. by Nocturnal Fandango

First ticketed pop-up event for The Sudden Loneliness Gift delivers on great company, food, drinks, and a large side of WTF.

Experienced: July 15, 2017
Location: Undisclosed
Address: North Hollywood, CA
Price: $30
Audience Size: About 14
Runtime: 120 minutes
More Information: Sudden Loneliness Gift, Instagram

Going into this I knew a few things: dinner party, Thai food, drinks, and a few characters from The Sudden Loneliness Gift (TSLG).

Coming out of this I learned one thing: Kevin is dead.

Kevin, the real life husband of Jason, had not been talked about much since TSLG started. He seemingly disappeared and there had been references to Jason being sad. I had always assumed it was related to a breakup with Kevin but never once did I think Kevin had died.

Just a few months earlier in March I met Kevin at the birthday party dinner scene in the Have You Seen Jake? finale in Idyllwild, CA. He is (was?) one of “The Organizers” and well known within the Jake community since he played himself as well as Mr. S (a character based on “shame”).

Nocturnal Fandango

The dinner was located in the backyard of a nice home in North Hollywood. Jason had recently moved here from his place in Orange County. The reasons for the move were a bit cryptic and sometimes glossed over but he said he wanted (or needed) a change of scenery. The tables were beautifully decorated with name tags and papers that looked like menus or poems in Thai. There was an assortment of beers, rum punch, tea, and water before the food came out.

The evening played out like a relaxing get together amongst friends save for a couple of suspicious characters that would roam about wreaking havoc on unsuspecting guests eating the fantastic Thai dinner. One man in an orange jumpsuit and orange ski mask would go around the table tormenting us one at a time (going around the table) while a woman with sunglasses only spoke to people in German. Some people were taken back to a guest house for unknown reasons.

Most of us tried to ignore these two but Jason and his friends Chelsea, Finch, Angie, and Buoy (who I didn’t see maybe she wasn’t there that night) were visibly disturbed throughout the evening. When someone would acknowledge their existence we were told “just ignore them.”

Nocturnal Fandango

The night came to an abrupt end when the man in orange grabbed Jason and put him in sort of a head lock. There was a tense struggle and everyone was watching when Jason finally blurted out “What more do you want from me?? You’ve already taken everything!” He felt compelled in the moment to tell us all something I assume he hadn’t told anyone outside of his inner circle of friends “You know Kevin? My husband Kevin? He’s dead! Not in the immersive theater sense.. He’s dead!” He started to break down.

Jason’s close friends consoled him and told the man in orange to go away to leave. The news hit me hard. I was shocked and thoroughly confused. The key phrase “not in the immersive theater sense” made this seem like it wasn’t just a story beat. But that can’t be possible right? There’s no way Jason and company would write a story about a real life actual death of someone who most of know of within the last few months.. Would they?

We were told it would probably be best if we left right now that they were sorry for the abrupt end to the evening. We all left speechless.

When leaving the dinner there was a small part of me that thought that Kevin might have died and this is Jason’s way of mourning. After researching a bit I have come to the fortunate conclusion that Kevin is probably not dead. Going under that assumption I can safely say I enjoyed this show a lot. It had chance to breathe, had fantastic food & drinks, and there were many opportunities to speak to some of the characters we have interacted with or heard about via Slack. If my assumption is incorrect I am so very sorry Jason.

Brave The Dark

Experimental underground theatre haunt meets gentle immersive theatre.

Experienced: July 15, 2017
Dates: Fridays and Saturdays July 14-29, 2017
Location: Zombie Joe’s Underground
Address: 4850 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood CA 91601
Price: $15.00
Audience Size: About 12
Runtime: 18 minutes
More Information: Zombie Joe’s site, Twitter

Brave The Dark is a fun chaotic experiment. It has several scenes, many actors, and a lot of dark to brave. It runs sort of like a cross between a haunted house and a choreographed immersive piece. The live music performed throughout (somehow setting up shop in different rooms with the audience) gives it a raw edge.

You have one instruction throughout the performance and it’s to ‘follow the light’. This is one technique used to guide the audience through the different dark rooms of the space. At times you are led into dead ends to witness or participate in a small scene before being nudged out. The different paths I was led down were very disorienting making me wonder “how did I end up here?”

Overall I liked their Tortured Souls immersive piece from February 2017 more but this was definitely a different take and worth checking out especially to help Zombie Joe’s celebrate their 25th year! If you get there early Zombie Joe may greet you at the door– he likes chatting with the crowd. He is one of the nicest and most approachable creators you’ll ever meet. If you haven’t had a chance yet do check out his interview with My Haunt Life it provides a lot of context and background into how Zombie Joe ended up where he is today and what makes him tick.

The Rise and Fall of Dracula by Cadame Co.

Ensemble theatre piece with some immersive elements in a non-traditional space.

Experienced: July 14, 2017 at Hollywood Fringe Festival
Location: Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre
Address: 5636 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles CA, 90038
Price: $15.00
Audience Size: About 20 per showing
Runtime: 70 minutes
More Information: Hollywood Fringe, Cadame Co., Instagram

The play starts out inside a long hallway with audience members on both sides of the wall. The action takes place right between us in this tight space. We are introduced to a man dressed in a suit and as he walks the halls he is followed by a woman who is seemingly affecting his movements. He can’t seem to see her but he can definitely feel her. They do a beautiful dance across this hallway sometimes inches from our faces. It’s a wonderful beginning that eases the audience into the immersive nature of this production.

The play takes place in multiple rooms inside the space. Some actors would break character a bit, coming back to life after being attacked for instance, to facilitate the movement of the audience from one room to the next. It worked nicely as they still remained “in character” in tone and demeanor.

There is a lot of action in this play through tense fighting scenes with people being attacked and reacting to others being attacked. People would run in and out of different doors to a room in these fight scenes keeping the action fast paced. Dance and music play have a major presence as well to further the story. A passage of time is sometimes passed through dance and it fits the overall production perfectly.

The final 15 minutes or so take place on a more traditional stage with the audience in seats. Overall this plays more like a traditional play in a non-traditional space as there is little to no audience interaction or participation. I enjoyed myself throughout and would suggest checking it out if you get the chance.

Cadame Company

Brave The Dark [Tickets]

Dates: Fridays and Saturdays July 14-29, 2017
Location: Zombie Joe’s Underground
Address: 4850 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood CA 91601
Price: $15.00 tickets here
More Information: Zombie Joe’s site, Twitter

I didn’t get a chance to see the first iteration of Brave The Dark last summer but did go through Tortured Souls back in February 2017 and had a blast.

I plan to make it out to Zombie Joe’s for Brave The Dark this July! Check out the review here.

The Second Coming of Klaus Kinski

Remount tickets can be found here - note the venue change.

Experienced: June 17 and July 8, 2017 at Hollywood Fringe Festival
Location: Underground Theater
Address: 1312 N. Wilton Place, Los Angeles CA, 90028
Price: $15.00
Audience Size: 40-50
Runtime: 60 minutes
More Information: Klaus Kinski Live, Andrew Perez on Twitter, Klaus Kinski Reborn on Twitter, Hollywood Fringe

I hadn’t ever heard of Klaus Kinski but saw Andrew Perez at a Tension Experience panel during Scare LA in 2016 and his performance impressed me enough to follow him on Twitter. He started tweeting about a show he had been working on for Hollywood Fringe and I picked up a ticket without knowing much about it.

The Second Coming of Klaus Kinski

I was in awe from start to finish. The raw energy and emotion on display here is staggering. From the moment Kinski (make no mistake Andrew Perez IS Kinski) takes the stage to the moment he leaves it the audience is mesmerized. The opening speech was so riveting I teared up. It set the tone nicely for the emotional roller coaster to come.

The weaving of biographical monologue and scenes from Kinski’s life is entertaining and unexpected at times. Kinski is quite literally all over the stage, bouncing off the walls, flinging to the ground, on a soapbox, in the audience, and even backstage at times during the show. The pace is frenetic and exhausting. I’d never felt so drained at the conclusion of a performance and loved every moment of it. I enjoyed the show so much I had to see it again and it was just as captivating the second time.

Andrew Perez does an excellent job conveying the love and passion Kinski had for life. He subtly touches on some of the controversial topics surrounding his life. This is a portrayal of a flawed man with a strong desire to live life to the fullest.

Do yourself a favor and go see this and anything else Andrew Perez is in. He is a force to be reckoned with in whatever he decides to tackle next.

The Sudden Loneliness Gift - Therapy and dreams. by Nocturnal Fandango [Tickets]

Tickets on sale now for Therapy and dreams.

Dates: August 25-27, 2017
Location: Undisclosed
Address: Echo Park, CA
Price: $100.00 tickets here
More Information: Sudden Loneliness Gift, Instagram

Nocturnal Fandango

One of the surprise highlights of the 2016-17 season was Have You Seen Jake. The Sudden Loneliness Gift is the sophomore season from the non-profit company Nocturnal Fandango.

The Sudden Loneliness Gift is membership based (including a free tier) and includes access to Slack (chat), interactions with characters from their world, and invites to their paid events. If Nocturnal Fandango’s first set of shows is any indication you’ll want to be a part of this. Join the waitlist for more information!