Interactive Theater & Escape Rooms

You happen to it and it happens to you.

Image Sleep No More
Image Sleep No More


With interactive theater, also known as immersive theater, audience members help create their theater experience.

In a traditional theater experience, through sight and sound, audience members passively experience a performance in front of them, out of reach. They do not create.

Interactive theater encompasses a variety of different theatrical productions. The genre exists in between traditional theater and experiential games, designed and orchestrated by the participants.

Escape games exist on this continuum of interactive theater.  They take place on a set that is designed and staged before they arrive. However, the players determine how their game unfolds. The best room escapes turn the players into the actors of their own adventures.

In escape rooms, as in all types of theater, the experience is a work of art.


Interactive theater experiences vary widely based on:

  • size of the audience
  • size of the cast
  • size of the set
  • rules of the set
  • adherence to a plot

The genre is still developing; there isn’t a right or wrong way to design these experiences.

Four tips to make the most of your interactive theater experience

1. Review the story ahead of time

The show usually tells a story. It can be an interpretation of a known work or an original creation. Because you are not in a seat experiencing the story linearly, or even experiencing every part of the story, refresh yourself on the story before you arrive at the theater.

That said, you can usually enjoy your experience even if you have no understanding that there even is a story unfolding around you.

2. Participate

Your experience depends on you. Accept every interaction you are offered. Explore every option available to you. Manipulate the set. Do things. Seek out interactions with the cast and the other audience members. Play your role in crafting your positive experience.

Smiling and making eye contact with cast members will encourage them to interact with you.

Image via Then She Fell
Image via Then She Fell

3. Get Lucky

There is a lot of luck involved in having a good time, especially in shows with larger audiences. Sometimes you need to be the one selected to participate and the selection is out of your control. Realize that luck will play a huge role in your experience and cross your fingers.

4. Bring a friend, but go at it alone

Attend the show with others. A couple or a small group works best.

Then leave your companions and find your own experiences. Don’t feel responsible for anyone else’s fun.

Discuss the show with your companions after it ends. In all likelihood, each member of your party will tell a different story, some more positive than others (based on their participation and their luck). Synthesize the show together.

Room Escapes Interacting with Interactive Theater

Yes, it’s happening. This genre combines escape-room style puzzles with intensified character development as well as actor interaction. This collaboration will help both industries grow.

Interactive Theater in NYC

Sleep No More

Based on Macbeth, this enormous interactive theater is the best known one in New York. The set is incredible, cast is great, and whole experience is dark and sexy.

Just make sure you wear comfortable shoes and show up ready to chase the show’s fit cast members down corridors and up multiple flights of stairs.

Then She Fell

Our favorite interactive theater experience is based on Through the Looking Glass. It has a small audience and cast. You’ll have more than a few one-on-one interactions with the actors.

I cannot understate the intimacy and beauty of Then She Fell.

Queen of the Night

Queen of the Night is a loose retelling of The Magic Flute. The story really doesn’t matter here, as this show is part Cirque du Soleil-style circus, part burlesque show, and part banquet.

Image via Queen of the Night
Image via Queen of the Night

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