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Theatre company
Industry Arts & Entertainment
Founded 2000
Founder Felix Barrett
Headquarters United Kingdom
Website punchdrunk.org.uk

Punchdrunk is a British theatre company, formed in 2000, by Artistic Director Felix Barrett MBE.[1] Since its inception, Punchdrunk has pioneered[2] a form of "immersive" theatre[3] in which the audience is free to choose what to watch and where to go.[4] This format is related to "promenade theatre". Artistic director Felix Barrett prefers the term "site-sympathetic" when describing their work.[5]

Punchdrunk was founded by Felix Barrett, who continues to be the company’s Artistic Director and works closely with the company’s creative team. Punchdrunk’s Executive Director is Rebecca Dawson and Peter Higgin is Director of Enrichment and Punchdrunk Village. Company members include Associate Director and Choreographer Maxine Doyle, Creative Producer Colin Nightingale, Creative Director Stephen Dobbie, Senior Designer Livi Vaughan.

The company is a National Portfolio Organisation with Arts Council England.[6]

Punchdrunk International[edit]

In 2015, Felix Barrett founded a new production company called Punchdrunk International. Punchdrunk International produces a number of Punchdrunk’s main projects overseas, including Sleep No More in Shanghai.

Punchdrunk International has also collaborated with selected organisations, including a longer term creative relationship with Samsung North America, formed after a project with Rihanna.[7] These are led by Felix Barrett and the Punchdrunk International creative team.

Punchdrunk Enrichment[edit]

In 2008, Punchdrunk founded a new branch of the company focussed on outreach to communities and schools called Punchdrunk Enrichment. Punchdrunk Enrichment projects are mostly aimed at children and young people but they are created out of the same ethos as Punchdrunk’s main projects, with a similar ambition in terms of form, scale and design.

Peter Higgin, Punchdrunk’s Director of Enrichment, described these projects as “transformative experiences with a wider educational focus and the trademark design and imagination that you’d get in bigger Punchdrunk shows.”[8]

Projects from Punchdrunk Enrichment have included:

  • Under the Eiderdown (2009), a theatrical experience in which school pupils are invited to visit a magical bric-a-brac shop, encouraging them to show an interest in creative writing.[9]
  • The Lost Lending Library (2013), an immersive experience for primary schools in which a librarian shares her love of books.
  • Against Captain's Orders: A Journey into the Uncharted (2015), an immersive exhibition for children at the National Maritime Museum in London.[10]


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.[citation needed]

Masks are another signature element of Punchdrunk's work. Barret says when the company "...introduced masks, suddenly inhibition fell away and people found a sense of freedom in their anonymity, allowing them to fully explore their surroundings and become totally absorbed in the world around them." [11]

Former Secretary of State for Culture James Purnell cited Punchdrunk as an example of "access and excellence" in modern British theatre.[12]

History of productions[edit]


  • 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).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Queen's birthday honours for Penelope Wilton, Vera Lynn and Stanley Wells | News | The Stage". The Stage. 2016-06-10. Retrieved 2016-12-01. 
  2. ^ >. "Punchdrunk: plunge into a world of extraordinary theatre - Telegraph". Retrieved 2013-12-06. 
  3. ^ Machon, Susan. Immersive Theatres: Intimacy and Immediacy in Contemporary Performance. London: Palgrave, 2013.
  4. ^ "Official Punchdrunk website". Punchdrunk.org.uk. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  5. ^ "Punchdrunk: plunge into a world of extraordinary theatre". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2015-03-13. 
  6. ^ http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/funding/browse-regularly-funded-organisations/npo/punchdrunk/
  7. ^ "Want to Know When Rihanna's New Album Drops? Follow This Samsung Campaign". AdWeek. Retrieved 2016-12-01. 
  8. ^ "Culture Whisper: Personalised guide to London's cultural scene". Culture Whisper. Retrieved 2016-12-01. 
  9. ^ "In conversation with Matthew Blake". Wales Arts Review. 2015-07-02. Retrieved 2016-12-01. 
  10. ^ a b "Punchdrunk". punchdrunk.com. Retrieved 2016-01-15. 
  11. ^ Higgins, Charlotte (6 July 2007). "Overthrow the tyranny of targets: minister's message for the arts". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2007-07-26. 
  12. ^ Higgins, Charlotte (6 July 2007). "Overthrow the tyranny of targets: minister's message for the arts". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2007-07-26. 
  13. ^ a b c Andrew Eglinton, "Reflection on a Decade Punchdrunk of Theatre", in Theatre Forum 37 (2010): 46.
  14. ^ "Odyssey Works Produces Weekend-Long Theater for an Audience of One". artinfo.com. Retrieved 2017-04-23. 
  15. ^ "Punchdrunk website – Chair". punchdrunk. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  16. ^ "Punchdrunk website – The Tempest". punchdrunk. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  17. ^ "Punchdrunk website – Sleep No More". punchdrunk. Archived from the original on 4 July 2010. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  18. ^ "Punchdrunk : Art Trail 2004". 26 July 2004. Archived from the original on 23 September 2006. 
  19. ^ Clare, Paul (11 August 2005). "The Big Chill Festival 2005 – In The Press". DJ Magazine. Archived from the original on 17 September 2006. 
  20. ^ Gardner, Lyn (22 February 2005). "The Firebird Ball Offley Works, London" (PDF). The Guardian. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 November 2008. 
  21. ^ "Productions : Faust". National Theatre. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  22. ^ "Critics' Circle | Drama". Criticscircle.org.uk. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  23. ^ "Productions : The Masque of the Red Death". National Theatre. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  24. ^ "Productions : Red Death Parties". National Theatre. 12 April 2008. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  25. ^ Brown, Mark (8 May 2009). "Tunnel vision of underground art". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  26. ^ "ART website – Sleep No More". ART. Retrieved 2009-12-20. 
  27. ^ a b "Punchdrunk website – Sleep No More". punchdrunk. Archived from the original on 4 July 2010. Retrieved 2012-03-02. 
  28. ^ "Punchdrunk 'Immersive Theater' Group Seeks to Replace Mega Clubs in West Chelsea". DNAInfo. Retrieved 2010-12-22. 
  29. ^ "New York Production (2011)". Sleepnomorenyc.com. Retrieved 2011-08-11. 
  30. ^ "The McKittrick Hotel". The McKittrick Hotel. Retrieved 2011-08-11. 
  31. ^ Preview in UrbanDaddy
  32. ^ Lyn Gardner (8 June 2011). "The Crash of the Elysium: Punchdrunk children only". The Guardian. 
  33. ^ "The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable | A Punchdrunk production at Temple Studios". Nationaltheatre.org.uk. Retrieved 2014-02-24. 

External links[edit]