Update 4/19/22: If you enjoy The Nest, we hope you’ll check out our interview with creators Jeff Leinenveber and Jarrett Lantz on The Reality Escape Pod.
When we visited Scout Expedition Company’s The Nest in June of 2017, during its first run in Los Angeles, we were so moved that it left us truly speechless for hours after the experience.
We were so impressed with how the puzzles served as gates for telling a story that we started to think differently about what escape rooms could be. The Nest wasn’t an escape room, but it used elements of escape room-style gameplay to deliver an emotional, personal, and impactful story.
As Scout Expedition Company closes in on the final days of their Kickstarter to relaunch the show, we caught up with Creative Directors Jarrett Lantz and Jeff Leinenveber to learn more about version 2.0.
REA: The Nest is coming back!?
Yes, we’re taking everything we learned from the 2017 production and remounting the ultimate version of the show – kind of like a director’s cut. We’re really excited to be bringing it back!
How would you explain The Nest for someone who hasn’t experienced it?
In the story of The Nest, a woman named Josie recently passed away, leaving behind a storage unit filled with decades of her belongings. Audience members are equipped with a flashlight and explore Josie’s storage unit, searching through objects and listening to audio tapes to piece together her story.
We’re huge fans of immersive theater, narrative video games like Gone Home, Firewatch, or What Remains of Edith Finch, and escape rooms. The Nest mashes up certain elements from each. In its functionality, the show has a fairly similar framework to an escape room – experience a physical environment for a set period of time – with a little less focus on puzzles and a little bit more on story.
Tell us a bit about the new location. How does that change the piece?
The remount takes place in a beautiful, 1920s-era former storage building in Los Angeles. It really is the perfect location! Audience members will ride a freight elevator to one of the upper floors, where the show takes place.
Luckily, we have a bigger space to work with than before, so we’ll be able to create a few more distinct parts of the storage room while keeping the same rich, intimate environments that made the show so special.
What else will be different this time around?
We did 250 shows of the original version of The Nest, so now we can take those learnings to create the ultimate version from scratch. Since we’re in a larger space, the layout is completely different. Some of the scenic design is going in a slightly more abstract direction.
We’re also making each puzzle more of an interaction where we’re walking in the footsteps of Josie. Although the general story is fairly similar, we’re rewriting the entire thing to flow better
Who is The Nest for?
Originally, we’d targeted fans of immersive theater, but as the show went on, it was clear it resonated with a more general audience.
We had tons of enthusiasts of immersive theater and escape rooms, but also people who’d never done anything immersive before.
Visitors included lots of video game developers, parents with their adult children, and people on dates.
It seems that The Nest was really enjoyed by a broad spectrum of audience members.
How should escape room players, in particular, approach The Nest to get the most out of the experience?
Even though it shares some of the same elements as escape rooms, The Nest is something different.
There’s no countdown clock. Everyone gets to the end. The puzzles aren’t the most challenging. Instead, they are small interactions that place you into the shoes of Josie.
Our best advice is to approach The Nest like you’re about to experience a story. Feel free to slow down and enjoy it.
Why did you decide on Kickstarter as your platform for launching this?
The Nest really is a labor of love. We want to focus on executing the best creative vision rather than making a huge profit. As you can probably guess, this isn’t the best pitch for investors!
So, we decided to self-fund a big chunk of the show, with the remainder coming through Kickstarter. This will really help us to create the ultimate version, because we’re accountable to you, the audience, instead of to investors.
When will the remounted The Nest run? And for how long?
Our initial run will start in late summer for three months, but if ticket sales are healthy, we do have the option to extend. We’ll send extension announcements to those subscribed to our mailing list.
What made this the right time to bring back The Nest?
So much of immersive theater relies on finding the right space for your ideas. It was always our intention to bring back The Nest farther in the future, but we could not take this show just anywhere. Then the right opportunity presented itself… and here we are!
As we think back to our visit to The Nest, we have to agree with Jarrett and Jeff. The intimacy of the space and the way Josie’s story spilled out of it… that really captivated us.
We’re excited Scout Expedition Company has found the right next space for The Nest.
Jarrett and Jeff did an amazing job with the first iteration. We hope that this iteration will run long enough for us to see where they’re taking it.
Back The Nest on Kickstarter and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you. There’s less than a week left to do so!