Punchdrunk is a British theatre company, formed in 2000, the pioneer of a form of "immersive" theatre in which the audience is free to choose what to watch and where to go. This format is related to "promenade theatre". Artistic director Felix Barrett prefers the term "site-sympathetic" when describing their work.
The company was founded by Felix Barrett. Its executive director is Griselda Yorke. Company members include associate director and choreographer Maxine Doyle, enrichment director Peter Higgin, producer Colin Nightingale, sound and graphic designer Stephen Dobbie, technical director Euan Maybank and design associates Livi Vaughan and Bea Minns.
In a typical Punchdrunk production, audience members are free to roam the performance site, which can be as large as a five-story industrial warehouse. They can either follow the performers and themes (there are usually multiple threads at any instant), or simply explore the world of the performance, treating the production as a large art installation.
History of productions
- The Cherry Orchard (2000), based on the play by Anton Chekhov
- The House of Oedipus (2000), an adaptation of Oedipus Rex and Antigone by Sophocles, staged in the garden of Poltimore House, Devon.
- The Moonslave (2000)
- Johnny Formidable: Mystery at the Pink Flamingo (2001)
- Midsummer Night's Dream (2002)
- Chair (2002), an adaptation of Eugène Ionesco's The Chairs, performed in the Old Seager Distillery in Deptford.
- The Tempest (2003), an adaptation of the play by Shakespeare, again performed at the Old Seagar Distillery, using its five floors to create a dark vision of Prospero's island.
- Sleep No More (2003); see below for the 2009 and 2011 reinventions. An adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth in the style of a Hitchcock thriller, using reworked music from the soundtrack of classic Hitchcock films. Staged at the Beaufoy Building in London, an old Victorian school.
- Woyzeck (2004), an adaptation of the play by Georg Buchner. Performed at the Big Chill Music Festival.
- The Firebird Ball (2005), inspired by Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and Stravinsky's ballet The Firebird. Staged at Offley Works, a disused factory in South London.
- Marat/Sade (2005), an adaptation of the play by Peter Weiss. Performed at the 2005 Big Chill Music Festival.
- Faust (10 October 2006 until 31 March 2007), an adaptation of Goethe's Faust Part One, relocated to a small town in the 1950s Midwest. Staged across 150,000 sq ft (14,000 m2) of a derelict 5-storey archive building at 21 Wapping Lane in the London neighbourhood of Wapping. The production won the 2006 Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Best Designer.
- The Masque Of The Red Death (2007 play) (2007–8), a co-production with Battersea Arts Centre. An adaptation of stories by Edgar Allan Poe including "The Masque of the Red Death". Performed at the BAC from 5 October 2007 until 12 April 2008. While each performance culminated in a ball scene, Friday and Saturday night performances were followed by Red Death Lates, an elaborate afterparty with interactive performance, celebrity guests, live bands and cabaret.
- Tunnel 228 (2009), a collaboration with the Old Vic theatre, in the abandoned tunnels beneath London's Waterloo Station.
- Sleep No More, a 2009 reinvention in Boston of the 2003 London production. An adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth. Produced in association with the American Repertory Theatre at the Old Lincoln School in Brookline, Massachusetts. It won the Elliot Norton Theatre Award for Best Theatrical Experience 2010.
- It Felt Like A Kiss (2009). Commissioned by the Manchester International Festival and produced in collaboration with documentary filmmaker Adam Curtis and musician Damon Albarn at a deserted office block in Spinningfields, Manchester. It depicted "America's rise to power in the golden age of pop, and the nightmare that came back to haunt us all."
- The Duchess of Malfi (2010), an operatic adaptation of the play by John Webster with a score by Torsten Rasch. Produced in collaboration with English National Opera and performed in a vast, decommissioned pharmaceutical headquarters at London's Great Eastern Quay.[dead link]
- Sleep No More a 2011 reinvention in New York of the 2003 London production (also revived in Boston in 2009). Performed in disused warehouses at 530 W 27th Street in Manhattan, which was transformed into a faded hotel.
- The Crash of the Elysium, a 2011 one-hour show for children aged between 6 and 12, made in collaboration with the television series Doctor Who.
- Black Diamond a 2011 a travelling production that took place across 7 venues in East London between 3 July and 1 September to launch Stella Artois Black.
- And Darkness Descended... a 2011 site-specific performance that took place in the tunnels beneath Waterloo Station to launch the PlayStation game Resistance 3.
- The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable (2013), an adaptation of Woyzeck set in a sixties film studio, performed in a disused postal sorting office in Paddington, London.
- Against Captain's Orders: A Journey into the Uncharted (2015), an immersive exhibition for children at the National Maritime Museum in London.
- Machon, Josephine. Immersive Theatres: Intimacy and Immediacy in Contemporary Performance. London: Palgrave (2013).
- White, Gareth. "On Immersive Theatre". Theatre Research International 37.3 (2012): 221-35.
- Machon, Josephine. (Syn)aesthetics: Redefining Visceral Performance. London: Palgrave (2009).
- Oddey, Alison and Christine White (eds.). Modes of Spectating. Bristol: Intellect (2009).
- >. "Punchdrunk: plunge into a world of extraordinary theatre - Telegraph". Retrieved 2013-12-06.
- Machon, Susan. Immersive Theatres: Intimacy and Immediacy in Contemporary Performance. London: Palgrave, 2013.
- "Official Punchdrunk website". Punchdrunk.org.uk. Retrieved 2009-05-16.
- "Punchdrunk: plunge into a world of extraordinary theatre". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2015-03-13.
- Higgins, Charlotte (6 July 2007). "Overthrow the tyranny of targets: minister's message for the arts". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2007-07-26.
- Andrew Eglinton, "Reflection on a Decade Punchdrunk of Theatre", in Theatre Forum 37 (2010): 46.
- "Punchdrunk website – Chair". punchdrunk. Retrieved 2009-05-16.
- "Punchdrunk website – The Tempest". punchdrunk. Retrieved 2009-05-16.
- "Punchdrunk website – Sleep No More". punchdrunk. Retrieved 2009-05-16.
- "Punchdrunk : Art Trail 2004". 26 July 2004. Archived from the original on 23 September 2006.
- Gardner, Lyn (22 February 2005). "The Firebird Ball Offley Works, London" (PDF). The Guardian. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 November 2008.
- Clare, Paul (11 August 2005). "The Big Chill Festival 2005 – In The Press". DJ Magazine. Archived from the original on 17 September 2006.
- "Productions : Faust". National Theatre. Retrieved 2009-05-16.
- "Critics' Circle | Drama". Criticscircle.org.uk. Retrieved 2009-05-16.
- "Productions : The Masque of the Red Death". National Theatre. Retrieved 2009-05-16.
- "Productions : Red Death Parties". National Theatre. 12 April 2008. Retrieved 2009-05-16.
- Brown, Mark (8 May 2009). "Tunnel vision of underground art". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2009-05-16.
- "ART website – Sleep No More". ART. Retrieved 2009-12-20.
- "Punchdrunk website – Sleep No More". punchdrunk. Archived from the original on 4 July 2010. Retrieved 2012-03-02.
- "Punchdrunk 'Immersive Theater' Group Seeks to Replace Mega Clubs in West Chelsea". DNAInfo. Retrieved 2010-12-22.
- "New York Production (2011)". Sleepnomorenyc.com. Retrieved 2011-08-11.
- "The McKittrick Hotel". The McKittrick Hotel. Retrieved 2011-08-11.
- Preview in UrbanDaddy
- Lyn Gardner (8 June 2011). "The Crash of the Elysium: Punchdrunk children only". The Guardian.
- "The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable | A Punchdrunk production at Temple Studios". Nationaltheatre.org.uk. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
- "Punchdrunk". punchdrunk.com. Retrieved 2016-01-15.