CMU School of Drama

Friday, September 30, 2016

Stage reviews: 'Imaginarium' a grand escape; The Rep 'wigs out'

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Finding the Imaginarium proved much easier than leaving it.

The elaborate escape-room challenge by Bricolage Productions and ScareHouse requires full-tilt brain power, a game-for-anything spirit and, for Pittsburghers, a trek to Harmarville, where a sprawling single-story building is clearly marked with “Enter the Imaginarium” signs.

9 comments:

Tahirah Agbamuche said...

I thought these were both shows, but in reality, only one was an actual show. Imaginarium, is actually an experience! I’ve heard of similar instances of activities like this. As a theatre major, I get a rush from problem solving. I feel like the imaginarium would stimulate the experience. I’d even go as far to say that this would be a brilliant school of drama field trip! I wouldn’t doubt we would all learn from this. Group trip or not, this is certainly something I’d like to try, because I’ve never heard of an imaginarium. Shifting to “Wig Out” I have heard nothing but raving reviews for the show. The costume work, is extremely impressive.

Jamie Phanekham said...

I love that we are talking about escape rooms on the blog! They are extremely theater oriented, and my paint charge's boyfriend who used to be a TD, now designs escape rooms. He takes fascinating ideas like this and implements them in challenging, story-oriented ways. I have never been to one, but I would absolutely love to, knowing the incredible design and story work that go into them. I love that the company's name is Bricolage. That's perfect, since bricolage is a French term for collage of the arts. Which works for them since like a theater, they need to combine things like pyrotechnics, scenic and sound. I think I would like to do this one, have my experience with other CMU kids in the Burgh. I would be afraid to not get out and be embarassed. But this one seems so cool it wouldn't exactly matter if I got out or not. also this one seems less scary. "Imaginarium" is a better title than like a murder room.

Sasha Schwartz said...

There has been a lot of talk lately of escape rooms as an extremity of interactive theatrical experiences. I’ve personally never been to one, but I’ve heard a lot about the ones around Pittsburgh, particularly those during the month of October for the Halloween season. In addition, one of the arcade boxes last year was very much a twist on the escape-the-room idea (The Murder of Abigail Fletcher). I’m definitely more intrigued by the idea of a brain- teaser- inspired escape room than the haunted-house inspired escape rooms as someone who is very easily scared (and screamed all the way through Abigail Fletcher at the end of last year). I think it’s also more interesting to think of how, like the article states, escape rooms are able to maintain a mysterious vibe and make people use their brain power and think collaboratively as a group as opposed to just scaring the crap out of people. I just saw Wig Out last weekend and loved it; it was very cool seeing people from CMU performing in such a unique show. I thought the scenery and costumes were very colorful and inviting, and I loved the comparison between this relatively modern- day drag culture and shakespearian dramas with the “greek chorus” of the fates. I thought it danced the line well between drama and comedic musical with serious themes.

Kelly Simons said...

I love escape rooms! I’ve tried a couple in my old town, except we were never able to escape, it always seems like we were so close to solving it and then, of course, time was up. I’d love to actually solve an escape room, I wish I could be given as much time as needed in order to solve it. I’d also like to be a part of this design team; coming up with all of the different puzzles and hints that help solve the room sounds incredibly interesting. I also really like that this escape room is theatre themed, I wonder if it would lend some advantage to a theater person to try and solve it. Working as part of a group is key in these situations, I think it would be good for a design team or for the people of PTM to try and solve one, it’s always really fun!

Liz said...

The title made me think there's some correlation between the escape room and the wig out....
I saw Wig Out at the Pittsburgh Rep and it was amazing. I was completely fascinated by Eric's dream of finding and exploring gender identity. Maybe socially imposed gender identity is a room that we all need to escape.

The person who invented escape room is a genius. I HATE haunted houses but enjoyed escape rooms pretty much even though they also have a haunting spooky mysterious sense and sometimes throw you by surprise. It is a fantastic group experience to just go through the process of solving puzzles, searching for every clue in every corner of the room and wait for the magical trigger to open the next device when you enter the right combination. I agree so much that there's an theatrical and interactive aspect of escape rooms and I'm curious whether someone has already employ the idea of creating a performance or installation piece based on "escaping". It will be like sleep no more in an escape room maybe.

jcmertz said...

I am super excited about the Imaginarium escape room and can't wait to go try it out. Having helped build some puzzle elements for Escape Room Pittsburgh and having played (escaped?) my way through a few escape rooms, I have developed the opinion that while I love the puzzle solving and the teamwork, what most of these establishments are missing is polish on their sets and storytelling. Enter Bricolage, my favorite part of the Pittsburgh theater scene. I have been enamored with this group since I attended a preview of Ojo 2 years ago, which was one of the most intense theatrical experiences I have ever been a part of. And that is the most exciting part for me, I think, that I can say as an audience member that I was a part of the experience, not just an observer. If anyone can solve the remaining problems facing the escape room genre and turn out a truly next generation experience, it will be Bricolage. My excitement to try out the room is only half the reason I am psyched for the Imaginarium however, I am also super excited to see how it does in its mission of providing a constant source of funding to Bricolage so they can continue to make their amazing art. If this works, and I hope it does, it will be one of the most inventive ways to fund our craft I have ever seen, and a truly masterful use of their skills at the same time.

Zak Biggins said...

I can only speak for one of these shows. WIG OUT WAS AMAZING. The story elicited the joyful sentiments within me that are associated with becoming your own. It is so important that we, as artists, create theatre that is reflecting our own struggles and providing insight. The stellar cast combined with the beautiful scenery transformed my idea of a typical theatrical experience. Standing ovations and audience commentary was not only allowed, but encouraged. There were a few CMU students in the production and they SLAYED. I hope this story continues beyond pittsburgh so that its message of acceptance can be encouraged amongst audiences cross-country (especially in these hard times). I was so upset when the show was over and went back to see it two more times.

Claire Krueger said...

I like how they included how long it took to intermission. Because it was really long. The result was a short second act that felt unfinished, like the show wasn't over, as if there was going to be another scene. Other than that it was a beautiful show. The climax of the play when the houses battled was incredible as the stage unfolded before my eyes I was amazed. The show was entertaining, hilarious and had a strong social commentary that I think was portrayed very well. From a costume crazy perspective however I was a little crabby to see amazon purchases over and over again. The main tulle skirt on Venus is the most popular short petticoat brand on amazon. I should know, I own it in pink. I even happened to wear it to the show that night. One of Venus’s skirts was also the standard amazon skater print from a popular brand, one of which I also own a color variation of. Venus’s was red scales and mine is blue and cherry blossom. If I had spent more time shopping for fashion on amazon I might have recognized more and more. I'm not against ordering online but it felt a little cheap and out of place compared to some of the more glamorous portions of the show.

Zara Bucci said...

I know that this article was for last week, but I didn’t see it then so I’m doing it now. I am so excited that there are more and more themed entertainment type projects and experiences making their way to the green pages. Themed entertainment is recently getting more and more publicity making it more and more popular amongst people in the entertainment industry. All of these fully immersive participatory pieces are unique and all encompassing. Escape rooms like this one are a way to fully immerse you into an environment and allow you to interact with said environment. In fact, it forces you to interact with that environment. As the writer of the article expressed: Details Matter- Look Everywhere. Details are so crucial when developing and creating a completely hyper realistic environment. I actually am an associate to ScareHouse and am helping on other projects of theirs- but this looks like a great experience that I have to check out.