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Journal of Contemporary Drama in English

Editor-in-Chief: Middeke, Martin

Ed. by Berns, Ute / Wallace, Clare / Wald, Christina

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Watching, Attending, Sense-making: Spectatorship in Immersive Theatres

Josephine Machon
Published Online: 2016-05-12 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jcde-2016-0004


This article addresses the aesthetic, corporeal and intellectual dimensions of spectatorship in immersive theatre. Immersive work engages audiences at an experiential level and within environments that prompt multisensory engagement and explorative forms of audience participation. Immersive theatre makers, such as De La Guarda, dreamthinkspeak and Punchdrunk, have been making internationally recognised work throughout the 21st century. While audience interaction and participation has attracted a great deal of scholarly attention over the past few years, the significance of watching in immersive theatre remains elusive and merits further consideration. Drawing on Immersive Theatres (Machon, 2013) and referencing a full range of practice that is exemplary, this article describes and defines ‘immersive theatres’ in broad terms. Using Punchdrunk’s The Drowned Man (2013) as illustration, it considers the types of experience to be had and the qualities of watching that result in such events. In turn it addresses the type of ‘sense’ individuals can make when they are spectators to their own interactions, attendant to their actions and reactions.

Keywords: embodied spectatorship; immersive; interaction; Punchdrunk; (syn)aesthetics; The Drowned Man

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Published Online: 2016-05-12

Published in Print: 2016-05-01

Citation Information: Journal of Contemporary Drama in English, Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 34–48, ISSN (Online) 2195-0164, ISSN (Print) 2195-0156, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jcde-2016-0004.

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