Photo by @nycsubway / Instagram
“Immersive theater” has taken New York by storm, in no small part because the genre’s title is based on an English word which happens to be easily applied to a wide-ranging set of “experiences”. In other words, “immersive theater” doesn’t only refer to exclusive, extensively designed and choreographed shows like Sleep No More – in fact, it is often used to refer to any theater piece which is in some way, any way, non-traditional.
This Is Not A Theatre Company, “an NYC-based performance group specializing in immersive, non-traditional theatre experiences” has made three “site-specific audio plays” available for purchase, as an app on their website, Amazon and iTunes. The recorded, $2.99 trilogy of “self-scheduled performance,” is a, “full sensory experience,” which Not A Theatre Company is referring to as a “podplay.” The podplays correspond with the N, L and 7 subway lines, focusing on the culture and history of the individual train routes and their resident straphangers.
Podplays correspond with specific stations: “The international Local,” the 7 line’s play, is most relevant between Times Square and 74th St.-Broadway/Roosevelt Ave. in Queens; the N train’s “Damper Felts” is about Times Square to Astoria-Ditmars in Queens; and the L’s “Some Spare Change” is for 8 Ave. in Manhattan to Broadway Junction in Brooklyn.
The concept is simultaneously innovative and ancient. It’s similar to those audio guides they give you in museums as well as the decidedly non-theatrical tourism industry’s attempts at matching tours to technology. For us jaded, stoop grandpa Brooklynites whose flesh has grown harder than the subway doors after so many tough New York winters, it’s easy to see this as a bizarre development in an act we process as nothing more than a morning commute and ongoing political meltdown, but hey, it’s only $2.99, and it’s possible you could learn something.
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