The promise of experience
immersive theatre in the experience economy
In this essay, Alston addresses what he calls the "promise of Experience" in immersive theatre and elsewhere in the experience economy. He draws on a range of examples, including Punchdrunk's And Darkness Descended … (2011) and The Crash of the Elysium (2011–2012), Hilary Westlake's Dining with Alice (1999), and Lucien Bourjeily's 66 Minutes in Damascus (2012), comparing them with Walt Disney World Resort, horror house culture, and the economisation and marketisation of customer experiences in the experience economy. He argues that those working in the experience economy, including immersive theatre makers, tend to idealise the consumer/audience experience, producing a gap between lived experiences and their ideal forms. He suggests that the experience economy, in true capitalist mode, abstracts from experience its commodity, or ideal, form and that immersive theatre risks doing likewise. For Alston, the turn towards the experiential in immersive theatre and the experience economy may come at the cost of recognising relationships between people.
Alston, A. (2016)., The promise of experience: immersive theatre in the experience economy, in J. Frieze (ed.), Reframing immersive theatre, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 243-264.
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