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It’s called theatre of the senses – and to experience it, you need to first forget everything you think you know about theatre.
Of course, it’s not something new; actually, in the second half of the 19th century, a lot of directors and playwrights, actors and thinkers started defining a new way to understand theatre. That’s how the post-dramatic theatre was born; in other words, a lot of experimental forms, in which the “drama” – the script, the narrative, the central problem between the characters – were not as important as making your audience feel, rather than understand, and experience, rather than watch. Some experimented with shadows, others made expressive, even violent types of art, some made everybody from the audience a character, others tried making theatre without actors at all; most of what was done then can be described more as a performance rather than a play.
Most of it didn’t live long, of course, because it was mostly a thought experiment. Still, the revolution helped build modern theatre as we know it today. A form of those experiments that we can still experience today is the theatre of the senses: a type of performance in which the audience is invited to create their own narrative, while each and every one of their senses in being ignited by use of various methods such as putting something over their eyes and giving them a warm piece of wood to hold, or making them pass through an aromatic cloud of mint or lavender. There is a loose narrative, but everyone is invited to walk freely and find their own meaning behind it all.
The reason why it’s so powerful is mainly because it invites us, the public, to experience theatre with our subconscious mind, rather than to understand and fit everything into neat categories. It really is what you make out of it, so if you think it’s therapy, it could be a good way to reconnect with yourself, your body, your desires; if you think of it as a mediation, it’s easy to just let go and simply be in that moment. For those reasons – and because I’ve been experiencing such a thing myself a couple of time – I urge you to find a theatre like this in your town and get a ticket; it’s a ride you won’t easily forget.