Trust us… You know when you’ve been punch-drunked.
Punchdrunk are the creative minds behind the highly celebrated, immersive theatre productions that have been popping up over the last ten years around the world and in the media. The wonder-workers are currently collaborating with PlayStation for the launch of the third in the Resistance series, resulting in an innovative survival experiment fusing gaming, theatre and a little terror!
…and darkness descended is an intense apocalyptic experience based around the fact that the longer you survive, the more you will see. Set in Waterloo Station Arches, participants will be transported to an alternate London where they will form ‘the resistance’ with an aim to send a message to US survivors (who are introduced at the start of Resistance 3). Linking to the game’s multiplayer element, participants must work together in order to both survive attack and move forward with their mission. Both terrified and intrigued, i-D online spoke to Artistic Director of Punchdrunk, Felix Barrett, to get the low down on the epic adventure.
How does …and darkness descended compare to your previous work? It draws on previous shows like It Felt A Kiss and The Crash of The Elysium in that it’s a linear show with the audience at the heart of the action.
It was partly inspired by Japanese traditions of ‘Dark Rides’ and ‘Walks of Terror’ – could you explain what these are? In the early 20th century when the West was developing modern day ghost trains, the Japanese were exploring a similar territory but with suspense and tension rather than shock at their core. Far more theatrical the Japanese rides are more carefully nuanced and have layers of complexity that don’t exist in their Western counterparts.
What else has inspired you? Well obviously Resistance 3, but we’re also fascinated by the possibility of interface between theatre and video games, and this event gives us an amazing opportunity to explore and develop some of our ideas on this.
How do you intend to make the audience feel? As if they have been dropped into the middle of a computer game. They are their own Avatars.
How did this intermingling of video games and theatre come about? Video Games have progressed hugely over the last decade; the complexity that now exists in those games has parallels with the way we make theatre. Currently that is only a coincidence, but we decided to actively interrogate what would happen if we took the rules and mechanics of some of the best video games around today and applied them to our live work.
How different was working with BBC prophet Adam Curtis on It Felt Like A Kiss to working with PlayStation/ Resistance 3 on …and darkness descended? One show is about political fear and the other is about visceral fear and while in many ways they couldn’t be more different, they are at their core the same thing!
Tell us your top three favourite video games?
1. Resident Evil
3. Heavy Rain
…and darkness descended runs from the 1st to the 4th of September at Waterloo Station Arches, Leake Street, SE1. You can still apply for tickets for Saturday and Sunday up until midday on 30th August by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org stating your preferred date.
Text: Francesca Dunn