If you’ve ever played one of those choose-your-own-adventure games, then you know just how fun it is to actually be part of a story instead of just passively watching it unfold. When you are an active participant who gets to have a say in how the experience takes shape, everything becomes much more exciting: a story is no longer linear or predictable but is rather full of unlimited and mysterious possibilities.
This is exactly why theatre-goers in Toronto have been increasingly favouring interactive experiences in place of conventional live performances: from Mirvish’s sound installation, Blindness, in 2021, to more recently Lighthouse Immersive’s The Library at Night, sensory experiences have been popping up (and selling out) all over the city. But why exactly are they becoming so popular, and could they possibly become the new norm in the world of performing arts?
Mooney on Theatre
One of the most appealing elements of this innovative performance style is the 360-degree immersion. While traditional performances usually take place on a distant stage, immersive shows provide a much more intimate experience by tapping into your senses. These shows put you—yes, you!—at the centre of everything, and give audiences the power to craft their own unique version of the story.
This brilliant approach of involving the audience in a show is what initially inspired Artistic Director, Julia Cratchley, to establish TranscenDance Project in 2015. After seeing Sleep No More in New York City in 2011, a similarly interactive theatre experience based on Macbeth, Cratchley was compelled to bring this unique avenue of performance to Toronto—and with her extensive training in the contemporary and classical arts, Cratchley was the perfect person to bring this idea to life on Canadian soil.
Cratchley, who originally hails from Richmond Hill, Ontario, trained at the Arts Umbrella Dance Graduate Program in Vancouver, B.C., and recently completed an intensive with the Batsheva Dance Company in both Belgium and New York. Prior to founding TranscenDance Project, Cratchley was also a company member for Toes for Dance, Conteur Dance Company, Rutherford Movement Exchange, and Bridge to Artists.
With Cratchley’s expertise, as well as her mastermind direction and choreography, we presented our first immersive show, The Eve of St. George, in 2018. This chilling yet evocative adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula successfully completed two sold out runs at Queen West’s The Great Hall. After such an overwhelmingly positive response, we at TranscenDance Project are now excited to announce our latest interactive creation: A Grimm Night, inspired by the Brothers Grimm fairy tales such as Cinderella and Rapunzel.
From April 14th-17th, 2022, A Grimm Night will welcome guests to roam freely through Toronto’s Great Hall and discover the twisted, dark magic of these beloved fairy tales. This show is a voyeuristic experience that favours the bold and the curious, as guests will be invited to courageously investigate every nook and cranny of this four-story building. With an illustrious cast of 11 talented performers, A Grimm Night will also feature Evelyn Hart, the legendary prima ballerina and Canadian Walk of Fame inductee.
The National Ballet of Canada
An exemplary demonstration of contemporary performance, A Grimm Night will give audiences the chance to experience all the characteristic elements of an interactive show: the full sensory immersion, the autonomy to shape their own journey, and the seductive enigma of the unpredictable. This experimental performance is certainly not your typical trip to the theatre, but the show’s unconventional nature is exactly what makes it so intriguing.
Especially now that Toronto is emerging from restrictions on live performances, there’s no better time to step into the unknown and try out a new kind of immersive experience.
For tickets to A Grimm Night and to learn more about TranscenDance Project, please visit www.transcendanceproject.com/a-grimm-night.