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INTERVIEW: Immersive Theatre at The Vault Festival 2019

Immersive theatre is always popular at the VAULT Festival, and The Reviews Hub’s Richard Maguire caught up with Joe Ball, co-director of the play Fight Night, which puts the audience right at the centre of the action.

Fight Night created by Exit Productions is certainly boxing clever. Taking audience members behind the scenes of a boxing match, and then putting them ringside to watch a choreographed fight, is certainly an ambitious project. Even more intriguing is the fact that the audience can determine who wins the bout.

Exit Productions have previously been compared to Punchdrunk, arguably the most famous of all practitioners of immersive theatre, and Revolution, where audience members created a new society, was a hit at last year’s VAULT Festival. This year, co-director Joe Ball hopes that Exit Productions are on to another winner: “Some immersive theatre is shown in the carousel format when the audience sees parts of the show consecutively, but we are really interested in giving the audience the freedom to explore the night how they want to explore it.”

Members of the audience, by making their own journey through the show, will be able to bet on who they think the winner of the fight will be, which will, in turn, influence Fight Night’s ending. Joe thinks that this ability for the audience to change the course of the play’s narrative makes Exit Productions different from Punchdrunk. While Punchdrunk has provided some spectacular immersive experiences such as the Masque of the Red Death, its audience tend to be spectators rather than active participants in the story.

Joe is happy to be back at the VAULT Festival, especially as both his shows, Revolution and AI Love You, won awards last year. The latter, too, was interactive and audience members voted whether a robot could end its own life. This year Exit Productions are only doing one show at the festival and then they quickly move on to The Battersea Arts Centre for their new production, The Mission: Occupy Mars, where the audience will form the first colonial society on the red planet. Joe suggests the show will be political but with “a sci-fi glaze.”

As they are doing two performances of Fight Night each evening at the VAULT Festival, Joe is not sure whether he will have time to see anything else, but he recommends A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad). This cabaret about depression is written by Jon Brittain, the writer behind last year’s raucous hit Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho.

However, Joe is also looking forward to just exploring the festival, and we all know how easy it is to get lost in the spaces underneath Waterloo Station. Just going to the VAULT Festival is an immersive experience in itself. See you there!

Fight Night runs from 30 January to 17 February 2019 | VAULT Festival continues until 17 March 2019; full ‘what’s on’ guide over at Vaultfestival.com

Richard Maguire | Image: Contributed

About The Reviews Hub - Features

The Reviews Hub - Features
Our Features team is under the editorship of Nicole Craft. The team is responsible for sourcing interviews, articles, competitions from across the country. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.