An all-new interactive theatrical experience called The Republic has just opened in Orlando. This immersive show enrolls audience members into the story in a way completely unique to the theater world.
The Republic ‘beta-tested’ at Orlando Fringe and drew acclaim for with a Best Show award and sold out performances. It has now moved into regular performances with 30 attendees a night participating in the show.
To be honest, I’m the type of person that hates to have people sing him “Happy Birthday” in a restaurant, let alone being brought up on stage as part of a show. I had more than a bit of trepidation about how much involvement would be involved from me to make the evening enjoyable. But I needn’t have worried.
At the beginning of the evening, “players” are assigned as a group, or in my case, alone to a scene. You are given a brief player background then are thrust into the middle of a story and encouraged to interact and engage to learn more about your situation. It took me a bit to warm up, but by the middle of the performance I was comfortable enough to be more interactive both with other players and the cast.
The talent cast relies on script elements provided to them and extensive improv experience. A player’s action – or non-action – can affect the show on the fly. This means you may unlock multiple different stories on repeat visits and perhaps create an entirely new story.
This style of theatrical performance draws elements from Murder Mystery theater, Live Action Role Play (LARPing), and multi-player video games. In fact creator Sarah Elger says the idea for what become The Republic grew out of her many hours of playing World of Warcraft online video game.
Although she says she hadn’t heard of it until a few weeks ago, The Republic also reminds me of a show called Tamara. Set in an ‘Italian villa,’ (in LA, a Veterans of Foreign Wars building stood in; in NYC, the Armory) Tamara took you through 11 rooms, with over a dozen actors. As an audience member you could choose to follow any of the actors or change actors. Every time you came back you could have a different experience. But with Tamara, the story was always the same. The Republic elevates the experience by giving individual audience members agency to affect the story.
Both are interested in exploring themes of classism, sanctity of life, and personal responsibility. You don’t have to be a world-renown expert on Plato’s “Republic” to enjoy this show, but a quick read-through of the wikipedia entry would probably give you a leg up on identifying the major themes.
There are over 25 sets and 18,000 square feet of often labyrinth-like spaces to explore during the 90-minute experience. To be honest, I wished it was a bit longer as by the time I was ready to go in a new direction and explore a bit, the play was already wrapping up.
The Republic is intended for those 18 and older and does feature some extreme language and ‘rough’ touching of players (there is a safeword). If you go with a friend, there’s a good chance you’ll be separated. But that just means you have more notes to compare after the show.
The audience is encouraged to share notes and complete the story experience post-performance. I definitely recommend sticking around to talk to your fellow players.
The Republic is located in a warehouse in the Lake Ivanhoe area just north of Downtown and can only occupy that space through July 25th. So don’t hesitate, buy your tickets for this unique experience today.
Learn more about The Republic, or buy tickets at TheRepublicGame.com.
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