Punchdrunk return to London for show in vast mystery venue
The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable will be performed in an abandoned building described as a 'bleak hinterland'
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Thursday 21 March 2013
Six years ago, masked theatregoers wandered the gothic corridors of the Battersea Arts Centre for a production by immersive theatre group Punchdrunk.
Now after years of searching for a location, the company has returned to a “bleak hinterland” of 200,000 square feet right in the heart of London, but are so far keeping their fans in the dark over which building it is.
The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable will play out over the vast mystery location in zone one on London’s public transport map.
Felix Barrett, artistic director of Punchdrunk, would only say the vast building was “disused, versatile and currently very, very cold”.
Two shows already fell through after the company failed to secure a location and it has taken three years to put this on this production, inspired by Georg Buchner’s play Woyzeck.
“Once a building hasn’t been used for a few years, the ghosts that echo around the walls make themselves present. This space is loaded with stories in the cracks of the walls,” Mr Barrett said. “It has a melancholy and a mystery to it that sits with Buchner’s visceral atmostphere.
Mr Barrett said finding a location was “the hurdle” for Punchdrunk putting on a new production. “Without a building there is no show. The architecture dictates what goes on inside it.”
He continued: “London is such a jam-packed, swollen metropolis with every inch used. It’s very rare to find empty space that is up for being used creatively that is any size at all.”
Punchdrunk really made headlines with The Masque of the Red Death which played out in the labyrinthine corridors of the BAC. Spectators put on masks and cloaks and moved silently between scenes played out in different rooms.
The Drowned Man, a co-production with the National Theatre, starts in June and will follow a similar format with the audience wearing masks and exploring the building. Yet this time, will be a much larger scale with space for 600 people a night.
Since the Masque of the Red Death other companies have taken over buildings to stage immersive theatre or film nights, such as Secret Cinema.
Mr Barrett said: “We’ve been away for six years and the scene has shifted dramatically. We’re delighted if we’re in any way influential. To inspire the next generation of practitioners is brilliant. The downside is it’s far more difficult to get a space because of the competition. I thought with our profile it might be easier, but no.”
game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 'Fire at every person you see': Israeli soldiers reveal they were ordered to shoot to kill in Gaza – even if the targets may have been civilians
- 2 Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
- 3 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 4 Garland shooting: Isis claims attack on Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest in Texas as its first action on US soil
- 5 Met Gala 2015: Beyoncé manages to out-skimp Rihanna, Miley and Kim Kardashian combined with near-naked ensemble
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to join show
Jorge Luis Borges fan brings his infinite library to life online
Game of Thrones, season 5 episode 4, review: Sansa in danger of becoming another footnote in Westeros' bloody history
The highly NSFW poster for Gaspar Noé's Love makes Nymphomaniac look like 50 Shades
Trailer for Robin Williams' last film Absolutely Anything starring Simon Pegg released
In defence of liberal democracy
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: Clegg warns of second election before Christmas without Lib Dems