I am not bragging but I am saying that I have been blessed with the privilege and opportunity to have enjoyed theatre from New York’s Broadway to London’s West End and the shockingly large number of theatrical venues in Los Angeles and never before have I ever experienced anything even close to what is being performed right now at SFS Theatre in Hollywood. They call it “Immersive” because indeed the small audience of about 20 people is indeed integrated into the performance.
Now as it turns out Immersive Theatre, while not exactly Shakespearean, is also not entirely new but rather a growing art form that is often weird and creepy but yet in its own unique way captivating. Firelight is the name of the performance currently at the SFS Theatre and each performance lasts about 40 minutes. A small group assembles in a cozy but comfortable area on the street in front of the theatre and at the appropriate time we were led up a flight of stairs to the first of several rooms. It was deeply somber at first but once the door closed hard the four remaining actors sprang into joyous behavior which became mildly sexy and ultimately back to somber. Then the group moved to another room where it got even darker and weirder.
One by one new rooms and new scenes evolved. Near the end of the journey it got particularly intense as a man and a woman, two cast members, actually served tea to each audience member in total silence. Oddly there was no hesitation in drinking the tea although by then one wondered if there really was an exit. Well actually after a shot of spicy liquor there was an exit and a great deal of contemplation. The overriding message I received from this experience was that life is never perfect but embrace it fully for that is in the end all we have imperfections and all.
Firelight is something very much worth experiencing. It was created and is directed by Stephanie Feury and Nathan Keyes for whom I offer kudos but also have this one “note.” Given the nature of the surroundings at any given time an actor is speaking directly to only about a quarter of the audience because he or she is typically in the center of the room surrounded by audience. Then to set and maintain the mood the actors often spoke in little more than whisper meaning that often their words were unintelligible to many in the audience. I am not sure how that can be addressed but it should be. Nevertheless it is overall a very interesting even compelling theatrical experience and you can participate in it now at SFS Theatre, 5636 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood, California. Remaining shows are on March 22nd, 23rd and 25th at various times each day so don’t wait, but check it out and make your reservation now at: firelight.brownpapertickets.com or check out sfstheatre.com
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Interested in a different art form? Check this out.
Top photo by SFS Theatre