Dulled by the drudgery of our world, two of our finest agents, Liz & Adam, headed out in search of better lives on Utopia. They were given new names, new jobs and the hopes of a new future. Was it just as they’d dreamed, or was it all just electric sheep?
So, full disclosure: neither of us had ever been to Secret Cinema before. What exactly is Secret Cinema, you ask? Well, we’re not really supposed to tell you, it’s a secret. But okay.
Imagine stepping inside the world of your favorite film, not as a spectator but as an active participant. Before your visit, you’re assigned a character and given an objective that will shape the path of your experience over the course of the night. The more proactive you are, the more rewarding your experience will be. Secret Cinema is not for wallflowers.
Part of how it works, and why it works, is in the secrecy that surrounds it. The event’s location is only revealed after you have purchased your ticket (you’re told ahead of time that the venue will be in Zone 1 & 2, and near a major tube station) and no phones are allowed inside. Once you get over the fact you won’t be able to take an endless supply of selfies in front of the incredible sets they’ve constructed, you’ll be glad. For once, you’re completely disconnected from the outside (and online) world, and the experience is far better for it. And with a heightened in-world police presence, you won’t feel like flaunting the rules…
Being a newbie is fun but also a little bit scary; it’s like going to Rocky Horror live for the first time knowing you’re going to be dragged onstage and possibly humiliated. Fortunately, the reality of this experience was pure exhilaration and zero embarrassment, at least in our cases.
Our primary advice for newcomers is wholeheartedly to get into character. This means: look the part, act the part, live the part from the moment you walk through the door. Your assigned profile will tell you everything you need to know. So respectively, Liz became an entertainer / performer named Rosalie Weizak, while Adam became Utopian Ambassador Stefan Crawley. Dressed to the nines in full costume, and armed with props (and you would be *highly* advised to equip yourself as suggested), we entered the dystopian future of Blade Runner.
We won’t delve too much into the story Secret Cinema’s created to support a production of Ridley Scott’s 1982 science fiction masterpiece, but they’ve complemented it carefully and cleverly. With over seventy actors involved, it’s an immense show with both new and recognisable characters. Much like a Punchdrunk production or a live-action role-playing game, you’re part of the show with an individualised narrative path ahead of you.
One thing to stress is that Secret Cinema is very much a tiered experience, as indicated in the three different price points offered in their ticketing. As press, we certainly had the best of the best – and some of it we’ve only realised in retrospect: certain scenes we were drawn into, interactions we were confronted with, and possibly even the overall complexity of our individual stories. That said, a proactive attitude as far as participating and immersing yourself in the world will absolutely maximise your experience.
One key difference, of course, between Secret Cinema and other comparable immersive experiences is that at some point you do sit down to watch a film. What could be slightly deflating after wandering around the amazing scenery of downtown LA, Secret Cinema manages to turn massively to its advantage. The actors you’ve encountered as key characters through the evening don’t suddenly vanish. Instead, making use of some innovative in-world staging, they continue to be a real presence, re-shaping your viewing experience. If you’ve seen Blade Runner before as we both had many times between us, this totally renews it.
Now that we know how to do Secret Cinema, we would certainly make a return visit to Utopia. You can book your journey here.
Liz & Adam
Creating large-scale cultural experiences in abandoned spaces, Secret Cinema fuses film, music, theatre and installations where audiences explore ultra-immersive worlds in which fiction and reality blur.
In 2007, Secret Cinema introduced site-specific, immersive cultural experiences. Breaking films – and recently music albums – into their constituent parts and marrying narratives with play-along action, Secret Cinema is a unique participatory social experience. Fuelled by a desire to fill the void left by an over-saturated technological world, it invites audiences to lose themselves in serendipitous, imaginary environments that challenge the way we perceive culture and social interaction. To date, over 520,000 people attended Secret Cinema’s events. For further information visit: www.secretcinema.org