THE BLOG

Above and Beyond; A One on One Theatrical Experience in London's 21st Century Grand Hotel

26/03/2013 11:43 GMT | Updated 25/05/2013 10:12 BST

Brecht started it. Back in the 20th Century, Brecht smashed through the fourth wall and changed the face of theatre. The invisible line between the stage and audience had been blurred for good.

These walls continue to come crashing down. The rapid rise of immersive theatre, which plunges the actors and audience into the same space, has rendered the old-fashioned theatre all but redundant. These days, the most exciting productions are happening beyond the theatre walls.

Car parks, graveyards, abandoned warehouses, caravans and the whole of Islington have all been taken over in the name of immersive theatre. The more complete, convincing and claustrophobic the environment, the better.

Immersive theatre arguably kicked off in 2000 with the formation of the experimental power house, Punchdrunk. Brilliantly adept at re-imagining vast spaces and re-aligning their audience's sense of reality, Punchdrunk have created smash hit shows 'Faust' and, more recently, 'Sleep No More'.

But Punchdrunk was just the beginning. Tellingly, all major theatres have now formed crucial connections with young immersive companies. The National is in partnership with installation artists 'dreamthinkspeak' and the ENO recently collaborated with Punchdrunk.

The Old Vic helped to create The Old Vic Tunnels, which I was lucky enough to run for 3 years. This cavernous, underground space beneath the Waterloo tracks positively cried out for experimental theatre. We hosted a range of thrilling immersive shows and our tunnels saw corpses, minotaurs, furies and even fully fledged lakes winding through their murky depths.

It was whilst working with The Old Vic that I first spotted Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, one of the first members of Old Vic New Voices. In 2006, I whisked Morgan out a workshop and commissioned her to script my film 'The Interrogation of Leo and Lisa'. She is such a sharp writer and I've tried my damnedest to collaborate with her ever since.

Morgan is just one of a collection of incredibly talented women working on 'Above and Beyond'. Katie Lyons was part of the writing team behind the one-of-a-kind, Fringe First winning show, 'You Once Said Yes'. Designer Joanna Scotcher has already snapped up an Olivier for her work on 'The Railway Children' and director Mimi Poskitt is Artistic Director of Look Left Look Right, one of the most interrogative theatre companies I've encountered. I can't wait to see what magic this terrific company creates within the spectacular surroundings of the Corinthia Hotel.