I went to an amazing event at Conway Hall in London last week. I’ve been to a performance by Foolish People before and loved it. Again, I was not disappointed. Here’s a blurb about it from the we got tickets website.
Conway Hall and FoolishPeople present Virulent Experience, an immersive theatre event and art exhibition that combines immersive performance, art installation and interactive investigation.
Virulent Experience takes place in a future where Conway Hall exists in its new incarnation as The Virulent Museum of Human Experience, the terrifying location of the darkest fragments of the human psyche. A strange site where every banned emotion, experience, dream and nightmare can be made real.
Once inside, audience members will be free to explore and investigate the evolution and devolution of ethics, morals and the impact to the mind, imagination and free will of humans via a fictional future version of London.
‘Virulent Experience’ is a three hour immersive event, lasting from 7:30pm until 10:30pm with two entry points.
There are three cycles of the performance that audience members are able to stay as long as they like within.
Link to tickets:
What I like about this type of show, is that you don’t know what will happen. It’s scary and uncomfortable at first, but the actors are so good that you begin to relax and enjoy the experience. The audience participate but in a way where you are not made to do anything, except listen, watch, and soak up the scene. You are however, right in the middle of the action, literally. Actors brush past you, may be talk directly to you, or crawl below your feet. You could probably get more involved if you want to. I was almost tempted to run around and dance at one point, but I quite happily observed the drama from afar. Until an actor pulled me up from my seat, with me shouting no! no! but I loved it. You move from space to space, following actors, exploring rooms, being led, running, on the fire escapes, in beautifully lit rooms, in the basement, amongst the warren of corridors of Conway Hall.
My boyfriend had a really bad headache when we arrived and as it started, I thought may be this was too much for him. But no, he also enjoyed it and his headache even went by the end. He thanked me several times for inviting him along. As a games designer, he found the scenery and narrative really inspiring and said he would recommend it to other games designers.
There was also art work on display.
Over a number of years, we have developed a unique practice, Theatre of Manifestation. We combine mythology, shamanism, drama therapy, strategic forecasting and open source collaboration in the creation of this work. Each piece takes form by merging text, performance, sound, art, light and the building itself to create a unique, dreamlike world that living characters inhabit.
Our audience must choose their own journey without guidance, a technique which challenges their habitual way of watching art and entertainment in a conventional manner. Static consumption is not possible, active engagement and participation is vital and absolutely necessary.
Each audience member will have their own personal experience inside the piece and will absorb different installations and parts of the narrative in a non-linear fashion. Fragments, which the witness will use to construct their own reality.
This structure allows for an intimate interaction with our art that can be a powerful, compelling and liberating experience, though sometimes uncomfortable, as the content may challenge and stir powerful emotions within the spectator. These accumulate in our ultimate aim to initiate an expansion in consciousness within the individual, for positive change.
John Harrigan founded FoolishPeople in 1989, taking its name from the Fool major arcana of the tarot. The Fool encourages us to walk our own path, not the path of the ‘herd’, to become a free spirit, free from societal constraints, who is able to let go of outmoded beliefs and ideals.
We have produced our work across a large variety of sites including conventional theatres, galleries and site specific venues. We have worked in prestigious cultural venues such as the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Arcola Theatre and the Horse Hospital in London, historical buildings like the Galleries of Justice in Nottingham, internationally to America and Amsterdam and worked for clients such as the BBC. Our core collective features five artists from England, America and the Czech Republic, which grows when we undertake new collaborations with worldwide artists in the development of our open source projects.
If you would like to discuss a collaboration or receive information on FoolishPeople workshops please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The acting was slick and powerful and seamless. I go to theatre productions a few times a year and sometimes the smaller productions get under my skin more than the bigger shows with bigger budgets. Theatre to me is a one time physical and close experience, that is more magical and engaging than cinema if you see a good’un. This show blew my mind and I can’t really explain why or what or how it did it in a blog, but that you should see it for yourself as it is too good to miss.
The show runs at:
London Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, WC1R 4RL
6th to 31st August
If you miss it this time, check the next one out as they are brilliant.