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Shanghai hotel theater transports ‘guests’ back in time

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A fictitious McKinnon hotel in Shanghai offered visitors a unique “sleep no more” experience, an unconventional live cinematic production based on Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth.

The performance took place in the “hotel” that was designed to transform “guests” to become the audience. Once the guests enter, they are given masks to wear and are escorted through the hotel as part of the atmospheric production that the theater provides.

The audiences is then free to explore the 90 rooms spread across six floors, and even wander through a busy street market complete with dimly lit alleyways.

Actors Eric Jackson Bradley and Tori Sparks perform the parts of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in a production of “Sleep No More” in New York July 25, 2011. (File Photo: Reuters)
Actors Eric Jackson Bradley and Tori Sparks perform the parts of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in a production of “Sleep No More” in New York July 25, 2011. (File Photo: Reuters)

‘Experiential theater’

The construction of the “experiential theater” by Punchdrunk - a group that has been exploding traditional notions of performance for over 15 years - took more than one year to complete and was was originally intended to be a real hotel.

Punchdrunk’s artistic director Felix Barrett told CNN “It's the biggest build we’ve ever undertaken with specificity from the ground up.” He also added “it’s one of things we’ve dreamt about.”

Barrett first brought his version of immersive theatre to the UK in 2000, pitching up in all sorts of unlikely spaces - disused factories and decommissioned nuclear bunkers among them - with adaptations of classical literature and plays, from Chekhov and Edgar Allan Poe to Shakespeare.

It spread abroad in 2011 with “Sleep No More at The McKittrick Hotel,” which is still running in New York.