Spinning off

After posting what turned out to be an epic quantity of recaps and reminiscences of my experiences pertaining to Punchdrunk’s The Drowned Man on an old, unrelated blog that had gone unused for years prior to that, I’ve decided to spin all of my Punchdrunk-related content off into its own home.  To that end, I figured I’d give Tumblr a shot, since the community seems to be over here.  Over the next several days I intend to repost all 32 of my currently existing essays over here, covering all but one of my nights at The Drowned Man (the Finale is yet to come!).  They will be (almost) entirely unaltered and back-dated to when I first put them online.  Enjoy.

My Time at Temple Studios, Part 8

Show #8

Friday, December 27: 9 pm

Straight out of show 7 and back into the line, I wasn’t quite sure how to start the next one. I wanted to try Lila’s loop, but I wasn’t sure where to find her at the start of the show. There was a new (to me) Faye, who had joined the cast after my September trip – but one of the spoiler group people in line kind of warned me off of her, saying he found her much weaker than the others. Still, I figured I would see for myself, and I continued figuring on that right up until it was time to load the lift, when I changed my mind – it was time to get a better sense of what Laura Harding’s Alice was all about.

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My Time at Temple Studios, Part 7

Show #7

Friday, December 27: 5 pm

Returning to Temple Studios after three months away, my head was abuzz with options and concerns. Do I dive straight into new characters? Do I ease into things with some old favorites? Over the preceding weeks, I had already designed and discarded several potential plans for my first show. In the end, I decided to just see what the cast list looked like and go with whatever jumped out at me.

The thing that jumped out at me was that Kirsty Arnold was playing Andrea, and Fania Grigoriou was the PA. These are, in my opinion, the definitive roles for each of them, yet they are reversed much more often than they play the “correct” role. At my very first show, I had done a full loop with Fania’s PA and approximately half of a loop with Kirsty’s Andrea – so seeing the rest of Andrea’s loop was on my “to-do” list for this trip. Thinking that this particular bit of casting may be tough to catch again, I decided to start my night out with Andrea.

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My Time at Temple Studios, Part 6

Show #6

Tuesday, September 17: 7 pm

This was it. The last hurrah. Five shows in three days, a single night off, and now, my very last trip to Temple Studios. I wasn’t ready to leave. I didn’t know how to handle the idea that I would never again return. So I started doing what I always do in high stress situations, and what proved to, in some ways, be my downfall. I started over-planning.

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My Time at Temple Studios, Part 5

Show #5

Sunday, September 15: 5 pm

My target for the day was the Fool. After hearing Shawn go on and on about him (almost as much as I had gone on about Romola), I knew I had to devote a loop – especially since he was very nearly a blank slate for me. To this point I had seen only a single scene with him, and it was a brief one at that. Since my time was growing short (only two shows to go!), I did a bit more pre-planning than before, using spoiler group info to try to work out where he would be at the start of the show. My best guess was the birthday tent in Studio 2, so as soon as I was let off in the basement, I made for the stairs.

The benefit of this plan was immediately evident, even disregarding the specific matter of the fool – since the elevator let people off only at the basement and the first floor, the ground floor was almost entirely deserted. My world was, for these few amazing moments, entirely free of fellow white masks.

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My Time at Temple Studios, Part 4

Show #4

Saturday, September 14: 9 pm

While waiting in line for the late show, I couldn’t stop thinking about the Grocer. I’m a sucker for metatextual horror, so a story about a man who possesses a script outlining his future, which he must obey against his will, draws me like a moth to a flame. I found myself wishing I had found the patience to wait for the 1:1 to end so I could continue his story, and resolved to remedy the situation first thing.

Well, second thing, actually. First, I needed to lead Shawn to Romola, because he insisted that he was incapable of finding her on his own, and I really wanted to be able to talk about her. So straight out of the lift, I led him to the saloon, where she was talking to the barman. This time, she was played by Katie Lusby, and the prospect of seeing a third version of Romola was a very enticing one – but we had a semi-unspoken agreement to never follow the same character at the same time, so I left. Besides, I had a Grocer to catch.

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My Time at Temple Studios, Part 3

Show #3

Saturday, September 14: 5 pm

All through the day, I was replaying the first two shows in my head, and one thought kept popping up: “Hey, remember how you were going to follow Stanford way back during that first loop, and you didn’t? Yeah. You should do something about that.” Not to mention his connection to Romola, which made him all the more fascinating. I had to see just what kind of monster he really was. Thus was born my plan: I would exit in the basement and latch on to Stanford at the first opportunity. I wasn’t sure where he would be, but I knew it wouldn’t be too long before the initiation, and I could grab him then.

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My Time at Temple Studios, Part 2

Show #2

Friday, September 13: 9 pm

Turns out there were tickets available for the late show, so I went ahead and bought one, bringing my total count to six. While I re-queued, Shawn wandered off to find somewhere to get drunk, since he already felt like five would be two too many.

This time, I got on the lift first, so that I would be dropped off outside of the studio. I still couldn’t believe that after three hours of The Drowned Man, I hadn’t even gotten as far as the gates. Beyond that, I wasn’t sure what to do. I knew a lot of people said Romola was great, but I also thought I might be better off just sticking with the first person I saw. By the time I stepped out into the town, I had settled on the latter.

The first person I saw turned out to be a tiny girl in glasses (Katie McGuinness), wandering through the trailer park, looking confused. I followed her to the bar, where she asked the barman how to get to Temple Studios, showing him her pass for emphasis. The name on the pass? Romola Martin.

You see this? This is my cake. Not only do I have it, but I’m eating it too.

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My Time at Temple Studios, Part 1

This is the first in a series of posts describing my experience at The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable, an immersive theater production from Punchdrunk.  Over a long weekend in September, I flew to London and saw the show six times.  Ever since, I have been able to think about little else.  For those unfamiliar with The Drowned Man (or its sister production, Sleep No More), here is the basic concept:

Each show takes place within an expansive set, filling an entire building and spread across several floors. Characters move freely about this space, coming and going and interacting in various configurations. Audience members are given masks and instructed to remain silent,then turned loose into the set, free to move about wherever and whenever they see fit, follow or ignore characters, and generally find their own version of the story.  During each 3-hour performance, events repeat nearly three times, allowing for multiple perspectives within a single show.  Performances are largely dance-based, and highly cinematic lighting and sound effects are incorporated into nearly every inch of the space.  This all sounds terribly academic, but as you will see, the effect is anything but.

For anyone concerned about such things, Spoilers HO!

Show #1

Friday, September 13: 5 pm

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