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Nowadays, the word “immersive” is used as an umbrella term, often used to signify that something is “compelling”, “stimulating” or similar. But the immersive theatre movement and the immersive experiences that Project xx1 develops have specific roots and definitions. Let us try to clarify them: what makes “immersive” an experience created by Project xx1? Here below you will find a list of crucial features, all crossed by a common main focus: immersive experiences are created for the audience, for participants – the ultimate goal is to craft their experience.
The “stage” in performing arts is traditionally limited and at a good distance from the audience space. In an immersive experience these spaces are blended together to make performers and spectators share their space. While reducing considerably the distances, this fact entails that the audience is literally surrounded by the scene, developed at 360°, without any predefined points of view. Metaphorically, the spectator can hardly expect from which side a meaningful event would come - putting him in an engaging state quite different from the one generated in a theatre seat. The same considerations are applied to the experiences developed in virtual spaces: an internet search or a phone call can yield similar results.
Immersive experiences involve as many senses as possible: the atmospheres and narratives are created to stimulate sight, hearing, sense of smell, touch, kinaesthesia (sense of own movement), taste, temperature perception, and so on. All of these aspects contribute to create an experience as much real and all-encompassing as possible.
In immersive experiences, the possibility to interact is an essential tool to tell a story or create a specific atmosphere. Audience participation will be always offered and never forced - those who desire to be simply witnesses of what is happening are often free to do it. But immersive experiences release all their potential for those who desire to be involved, those who want to play along: the audience has the opportunity of playing a specific narrative role, a role in the development of creation. Those who play along can even live a private experience, just for them, in which their role gets even more crucial, taking part in first person to the unrolling of the events, sometimes even becoming a crucial engine to propel the performance itself.
A complicated word to express a simple concept: immersive experiences spread out on several communication media. Each medium is fitting to develop a story or an atmosphere, no holds barred: internet websites; social media profiles; phone contacts; apparently accidental meetings; written texts on documents, letters, and diaries; graphical images or photos; live performance; dioramas; comics; e-mails and instant messaging exchanges, and so on. You can find a definition here.
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All the aspects listed so far entail that an immersive experience could be as all-embracing and personal up to the point to make us forget for some moments that we are part of a fiction. Immersive experiences are created taking into consideration mainly the audience experience. Experience that, in immersivity, is not vicarious: the spectators are singled out, in first person, fostering even more the feeling that what is happening is actually real.