Oct 20, 2017 | By Carlene Thomas Bailey
Nov 11, 2016
As the world of retail changes and we crave experiences that go beyond our wildest imaginations, retailers would be wise to take a leaf out of The Waldorf Project’s book. The project is a highly stylised, highly considered piece of performance art – immersive theatre taken to an extreme. It taps into a new viscerality that’s emerging across art and design, a new sensuality that isn’t necessarily about sex (although it might be in this case, depending on your individual reaction).
Here’s how it starts: you arrive, dressed head-to-toe in black. You join a group of 39 other people, bubbling with anticipation and also dressed in black. You’re selected, in groups of three or four, to walk to a doorway lined with a curtain. You wait. A hand plunges through the curtain, beckoning you inside. You take that hand. You’re pulled behind the curtain, into the darkness.
Beyond that, I can’t say much more about what happened at the third chapter of The Waldorf Project, artist Sean Rogg’s highly experimental art-performance hybrid. It runs until 20 November at Here East, a vast space in Hackney Wick. Tickets are £79 each, and are selling fast; if you can get one, you should – because this is an experience that’s certain to be like nothing you’ve done before.
Chapter Three / FUTURO is only loosely linked to food: you’re not served a meal, you don’t ‘eat’. Instead, you participate in a seven-course piece of multi-sensory theatre; there’s pleasure, pain, discomfort, fetish, intimacy, long periods of waiting, a lot of physical interaction; dark spaces, confined spaces, moments of fear. After being dragged through that first curtain, I left the building bruised, with my face and hands stained, three hours later.
Interestingly, the guests are not the ‘star’ of this piece; you’re more like a prop, an object to be melded, dragged and sometimes ignored. This alone makes it distinct from immersive theatre or sensorial dining.
Rogg relates the concept of Chapter Three / FUTURO to the Japanese word ‘amae’, meaning ‘a temporary surrender in perfect safety’. The production brings together set design, sound, choreography, costume, scent and gastronomy, to meld ideas of utopia and dystopia. Quite simply, it’s a must-attend.
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