Constructing the Sensorium: Neoliberalism and Aesthetic Practice in Immersive Theatre
Abstract: Associated with a broad range of theatrical events and experiences,
the term immersive has become synonymous with an experiential, spectacle-laden brand of
contemporary theatre. From large-scale productions such as Punchdrunk's Sleep No More
(2008, 2011) to small-scale and customizable experiences (Third Rail Projects, Shunt, and
dreamthinkspeak), marketing campaigns and critical rev... read moreiews cite immersion as both a
descriptive and prescriptive term. Examining technologies and conventions drawn from a
range of so-called immersive events, this project asks how these productions refract and
replicate the technological and ideological constructs of the digital age. Traversing
disciplines such as posthumanism, contemporary art, and gaming studies, immersion
represents an extension of a cultural landscape obsessed with simulated realities and
self-surveillance. As an aesthetic, immersive events rely on sensual experiences, narrative
agency, and media installations to convey the presence and atmosphere of otherworldly
spaces. By turns haunting, visceral, and seductive spheres of interaction, these theatres
also engage in a neoliberal project: one that pretends to greater freedoms than traditional
theater while delimiting freedom and concealing the boundaries of particular events and
experiences. Moving between various components of performance in each chapter (text, space,
object), the dissertation illuminates the relationships between multimedia installations,
intertextuality, and object/participant interactions that make up these
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2016.
Submitted to the Dept. of Drama.
Advisor: Natalya Baldyga.
Committee: Monica Ndounou, Sarah Bay-Cheng, and Noe Montez.
Keywords: Theater, and Theater history.read less