A World Without Barriers? Enter iConsciousness

STRATA is one of the newest pieces of interactive explorative theatre to hit the U.S. scene, specifically taking Pittsburgh by storm as of August 2012.

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Turning the traditional model on its head, the creators ensured that the main character was the audience and required them to unmask their anonymity to become “participants” in the experience. As one reviewer Sean Collier explains: “When you buy admittance to STRATA – the Strategic Training Research and Testing Agency – you’ll receive an email with further instructions, including a questionnaire to fill out, directions to a rendezvous point and a stern request not to look at any birds. From there, the STRATA team will guide you through a “refitnessing,” in pursuit of “iConsciousness”…you’ll be sent on a personal journey through a hidden downtown locations, mostly alone and intimately involved in the story that unfolds…Depending on how your journey progresses, the experience can be touching, disturbing, shocking, affirming, inspiring – but no matter what, it’ll land like a knockout punch. It’s a very unusual thing to find yourself wandering around through a world catered for you and crafted down to the smallest detail. if you ever wanted to live out a waking dream, this is your chance.”

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Early in their marketing development, the creators decided to cultivate an anti-campaign to pair against the STRATA’s Gate Corporation pro-iConsciousness movement. This campaign helped to give the Gate Corporation its depth, for it would have had to exist for a number of decades for a resistance movement to develop. The “Anti- Gate” marketing movement would distress the hundreds of posters from the show that popped up everywhere downtown. And a fictional campaign leader “Rob Clifton”  led an anti-campaign on Twitter with such succinct messages as “don’t believe the lies.”

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The result is a theatrical experience that unnerves but enhances, that pushes its participants far out of their comfort zone and into deeper realms. And with such inspired marketing to match, it makes you curious enough to want to check out STRATA for yourself.

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Welcome to STRATA. 

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10 thoughts on “A World Without Barriers? Enter iConsciousness

  1. I don’t know if the term audience makes sense in this kind of work. Participants is definitely closer, but just a tad cold and clinical for my taste. This is completely fascinating… I just wrote a post on my blog that was part review, part exploration of what it now means to be an audience. Would it bother you if I reblogged this?
    Thank you!

    • iCompletelyagree. I think the collaborators chose their vocabulary very particularly…somehow “participants” fits here as the perfect term for individuals under a sort of cold corporation.

      Loved your piece on your recent immersive experience! And of course, you can share. Thanks Kat!

      • Yes, it totally fits for their purpose. I like the way they have created a “sense of danger”.

        Dystopian vision is really a part of our American cultural language. Stories like 1984 and Ayn Rand’s Anthem, while they aren’t the most beautifully written novels, are definitely sticking with us, even as they twist into something else. It seems to me that the trend then was to demonize the government, while now the trend is to demonize religion, i.e. Pullman’s His Dark Materials series. All of this really points to a deep underlying discontent with group-think.

        Thanks for reading!
        Katherine

  2. This sounds so cool. I have personally been pondering how to create theatre pieces that cater to an audience that increasingly wants their own unique experience in the palm of their hands. Though I haven’t seen it, I understand that “Sleep No More” is a step in this direction, and this sounds even MORE so. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing!

    • I’ve similarly been fascinated by this new upcrop of immersive theatre experiences that cater to the audience in exciting ways. Seeing Sleep No More in April, but so far have been obsessed with their commitment to create the world of the McKittrick Hotel (both within the show and surrounding marketing efforts). Glad you enjoyed!

  3. Reblogged this on Katherine McDaniel, soprano and commented:
    This is a brilliant, terrific idea for a theatrical experience. Dystopia right out of Owell’s 1984. Goodbye audience, hello participants in iConsciousness! Reblogged from the wonderful Thoughts on Theatre blog on WordPress.

  4. Reblogged this on synkroniciti and commented:
    This is a brilliant, terrific idea for a theatrical experience. Dystopia right out of Owell’s 1984. Goodbye audience, hello participants in iConsciousness! Reblogged from the wonderful Thoughts on Theatre blog on WordPress.

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