13 Amazing Immersive London Theatre Companies
London has always been a city unafraid to push boundaries. This is particularly true for theatre. There is so much more to the capital than the West End. With many directors and touring companies making use of the amazing London theatre venues and unique spaces to create immersive, challenging and ultimately engaging experiences for audiences.
When it comes to experimental and immersive theatre, London really is leading the way. As immersive theatre becomes increasingly popular, we have kept a keen eye on those pioneering theatre groups that put on productions that allow the audience to interact with the set, the performers and to actually become part of the action themselves.
We have rounded-up thirteen of the best touring theatre companies, operating in and around London. We have also included their social media accounts so you can keep up to date with all of their latest productions and never miss another ground-breaking show.
Having put on an all night production of Macbeth in Erno Goldfinger’s East London Tower block, RIFT are far from your ordinary theatre company. They are busy redefining theatre, creating, as they put it, “worlds for our audience to explore unlimited by platform, space or time.”
Ironically for a company with the strapline – Tell No One – if you attend a Secret Cinema event you will want to tell everyone. The audience are encouraged to participate in the action as actors take on the leading roles in cult films such as Alien and Shawshank Redemption. Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, Star Wars and 80’s classic Back to the Future have all had the Secret Cinema treatment with founder and director Fabien Riggall continuing to strive for unique and fully immersive experiences.
London Contemporary Performance Academy
Established in 2012 by Philip Ryder & Jonathan Ashby-Rock, the London Contemporary’s mission is to inject energy and relevance into classic theatre so that it connects with modern audiences. Their take on Dickens’s Christmas Carol saw the action take place in a World War II air raid shelter once again demonstrating their commitment to reimagining the canon in brave and bold ways.
Rhum and Clay
Rhum and Clay are a young and dynamic company, creating original shows with a grasp of cinematic storytelling. The core actors were trained at the legendary L’École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq. Having performed new production 64 Squares at Edinburgh Fringe to much acclaim, they will no doubt be touring across the country.
Founded in 2000, Punchdrunk have pioneered a form of immersive theatre that dissolves the boundaries between performer and audience. Renowned for their innovative use of unusual sites, their Drowned Man production took place in a disused Post Office sorting building in Paddington. Audiences were free to roam the spaces, watching what they wanted, adventuring into the unknown.
differencEngine’s productions combine apects of theatre, gaming and technology and are guided by the belief that you have to make meaningful choices in order to fully immerse yourself in theatre. As a result, their boundary-pushing productions force the audience to make choices at every turn, providing a unforgettable experience.
With the focus on new and original writing, Vertical Line treats audiences across the country to challenging and stimulating performances from fresh voices. By nurturing emerging talent, Vertical Line are able to produce theatre that smacks of freshness and vitality.
Although from Brighton, dreamthinkspeak’s pioneering site-specific productions have travelled to London and beyond. Since forming in 1999, dreamthinkspeak have breathed life and drama into unique architectural spaces with a combination of live performance and film.
DANTE OR DIE
Dealing in playful site-specific theatre, Dante or Die take audiences on both a physical and emotional journey through various spaces. Past productions include site-sensitive works in a skate park and a ski lift. Where will their work take them next?
YOU ME BUM BUM TRAIN
It’s impossible to talk about immersive theatre without mentioning You Me Bum Bum Bum Train. Conversely, it’s also very difficult to talk about the production due to the secrecy that surrounds it, with audiences strongly discouraged from talking about their experience. The production, both a remedy and comment on the urban grind, has been wowing participants at various venues since it was conceived in 2004. Tickets sell like the proverbial hot cakes so be sure to act fast.
Defibrillator are a new and dynamic company, specialising in site-specific theatre. Their Hotel Plays saw Defibrillator performing one act works by Tennessee Williams in luxury suites of London Hotels, providing a voyeuristic yet fun experience for audiences.
Superbolt Theatre are an international ensemble who create theatre collaboratively and for the enjoyment of everyone. Based in both London and Oslo but having in trained in Paris at L’École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq, Superbolt tour the world bringing their intelligent and powerfully acted productions to spaces both big and small.
Out of Joint
Founded by director Max Stafford-Clark, Out of Joint is a touring theatre company that produces inventive theatre that probes contemporary issues. Past productions include This May Hurt A Bit, a comedy-drama that examines the NHS and Jane Wenham: The Witch of Walkern about sex and the supernatural. 2019 sees them take on Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel The Remains of the Day.
20 Bedford Way Theatre For Hire
At 20 Bedford Way, we have been lucky enough to work with a diverse range of theatre companies – delivering powerful performances in our Logan Hall theatre space as well as using our various rehearsal spaces. With professional stage lighting, sound and AV systems as well as a dedicated green room, Logan Hall offers theatre groups a fantastic opportunity to hire an incredible theatre space that seats up to 910 people. We also have a number of other unique spaces ideal for those companies that want to create site-specific and immersive theatre in London.
Why not read our guide to Theatre Funding in the UK?