A Play Where You’re the Star, But There’s No Script

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Daniel Weisenthal, Christopher Lin, Jessica Long, Sophie Asher, participating in their friend, Dare Turner’s (in green), Odyssey

When you go to see a play, you’re almost never the only person in the audience. And if you are, it’s usually not a very good sign. But what if you found yourself inside an immersive, interactive theater project designed for an audience of one — just for you?

The idea came from two artists, Abraham Burickson and Matthew Purdon. They wondered if they could make a piece of art that was specifically tailored to a single person — more like a letter meant for one person, or a poem written for one reader, than a play meant to please a crowd.

Their solution was Odyssey Works, a company made up of creative folks — musicians, actors, architects, even dream analysts — who work for months to stage elaborate productions. They do intensive research on their planned audience member, interviewing their family and friends, haunting their local hangouts, watching their favorite movies, and reading their favorite books.  

Odyssey Works, now led by Burickson, stages interactive work that can last anywhere from several hours to several months. For the production, the artists use the real world as a stage, with scenes based in their audience member's neighborhood, workplace, and home.

And for audience members like Dare Turner, who have been lucky enough to undergo the experience, Odyssey Works productions have indelibly altered the course of their lives. 

This story was produced by Liz Mak. A version of this piece originally aired on KALW in San Francisco. 

Dare Turner takes a restful moment on her Odyssey. For her, the experience of looking through the suspended frames was transformative: 'I think I saw my future, in a way'


Collaborators Rose Linke (left) and Brian Christian (right) spent 30 minutes observing Anti-Mass by Cornelia Parker at the DeYoung Museum

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