Boston Post Mortem Field Trip: Sleep No More

by Darius Kazemi on December 26, 2009

in Announcements

The Boston Post Mortem is organizing a group trip for game developers to see Sleep No More. Sleep No More is a somewhat-interactive theater experience — essentially a theater company took over an abandoned elementary school in Brookline and did a total conversion on it, turning it into a set where a cast performs something inspired heavily by dance, "Macbeth," and Hitchcock. When I attended in October I was blown away by the experience and I came away from it thinking, "Every game developer should see this." I couldn’t articulate why, which is why I asked Alexx Kay, a designer at 2K Boston and another Sleep No More fan, to explain below in a spoiler-free way why the show is so important for game developers.

If you would like to attend the field trip, please fill out this form to help us figure out what day works for everyone. Sadly, group rates are not available for the show, but I still think it would be a fun trip to take as a group.

Here’s Alexx Kay’s take on Sleep No More:

Sleep No More is like nothing you have seen before.  All the reviews I’ve read completely fail to convey the experience of the show, because, while it has aspects of things you may be familiar with (including video games), it brings those elements together in a truly unique and exciting way, creating a genuine new art form.  It has some roots in Shakespeare’s "Macbeth", but is simultaneously less, and much, much more than that. Since no one (including me) seems to be able to explain it properly, I’m not particularly going to try; it is far better experienced than explained, with as few preconceptions as possible.

This is a show that all game developers should see.  It’s immersive, interactive, and immensely inspiring.  The space is like something out of Myst, or BioShock, only real, physical, and touchable.  Your other senses will also be exercised, and sound designers will find much of note. Anyone in the business of bringing players into an emotional space via interactive entertainment will find much of interest here.  One of my colleagues described it as "The best level I’ve ever played."

Some caveats:

1) Don’t expect a linear story — or much ‘story’ at all.  A lot happens, but none of it comes with easy explanations, and you can’t see more than a fraction of it on any one visit, anyways.  I have been three times now, and think I’ve seen perhaps 50% of what there is to be seen.  There are puzzles, and some have solutions, but you may find those solutions not worth the effort you put into finding them.  This is about the questions, not the answers; the journey, not the destination.

2) This show takes a lot of energy.  If you stay for the whole thing, it’s three hours long.  You won’t be sitting for much of that time, if any. And it’s not just standing in place, you’ll be moving around a lot also. You may find yourself running down halls and up and down stairs.  Wear comfortable shoes!

3) If you are disabled in any way, you won’t get the full effect of the show.  As I said, it’s a feast for all the senses, and if you’re missing any, you’ll miss that aspect of the experience.  If you have any mobility issues, then you won’t be able to chase after actors when they flee…  If you happen to own two styles of corrective lenses, contacts may be a better idea than glasses for this show, given its… unusual seeing conditions.  Glasses are far from a dealbreaker, but some people do experience issues.

Other logistical details:

* The space is pretty warm, especially considering the exercise you get moving around.  Coat Check is $1 per item.  Be aware that at the beginning and end of the night, the coat check line can get long.

* The bar stays open for a while after the show.  Though loud, it can be fun to hang out in with your friends, and sometimes the actors come out and chat.  If you wait a while, the mob at the coat check goes away 🙂

* Dress… to be comfortable, with the knowledge that you’ll be on your feet for most of three hours, and moving around a lot. Some of the audience were wearing fancy-night-out clothes, but most weren’t. I wouldn’t wear anything with frills that might get caught on random objects.  The decor is dense, and sometimes so are the crowds.

* It is possible to stay with your friends during the show — but *not* recommended.  The experience works best alone.  Split up, cover more ground, and compare notes afterwards.

Last, but far from least: Enjoy yourself.  The show rewards many different approaches.  If what you’re doing isn’t exciting you, try something else.

Again, if you’re interested in going, please:

fill out this form!


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