Thursday, December 15, 2011

I Love New York: Sleep No More

I moved to New York City when I was just shy of 18 to go to college. When 21-year-old me wrote a letter for 30-year-old me to open, one of the questions I asked myself was whether I still lived in New York. I knew then what I know now: that it's my absolute favorite place in the world and I can't imagine living anywhere else.

How I love New York; let me count the ways. I love that you can be as anonymous or as conspicuous as you want to be; you can even do it depending on your mood. I love that you can wear whatever you want, grubby or outrageous, and barely anyone will give you a second look. I love the history of it, knowing the sheer amount of fascinating people that have walked the streets I'm now walking on. I love its unique beauty, at once grimy and exquisite. All the song lyrics are true, really.

But what I love most is how much unique art and culture is going on around me at every minute of every day. I've sat in the front row as Alan Rickman performed Ibsen in front of me. I've sat in the back row as Daniel Radcliffe sang out to the rafters and I've seen a lot of amazing things in between.

And this is the world's longest intro to talking about one of those amazing things: the theater/dance/interactive art piece Sleep No More, which I recently attended.

The experience takes place at a 5-floor warehouse that has been converted into the fictional McKittrick Hotel. Upon entering, audience members are given a playing card and a mask that looks like this:

For the duration of the 3-hour show, the audience must wear these masks. And then you are set loose upon the five floors, free to roam as you choose, trying to find and follow different actors who are performing various scenes all throughout the space. They are maskless and, mostly, silent (and wearing fabulous vintage garb that spans from the twenties to the forties).

It involves a lot of running around, opening drawers, sometimes being led into private rooms by the actors and more. (I should mention here that it also involves a lot of nudity so it's not meant for children.)

The story is very, very loosely based on Macbeth, which I brushed up on before going to the show. I can tell you that, for the most part, I still had no idea what was going on. But I loved every minute of it. It's such a unique, extraordinary experience...not to mention that my thighs got a great workout running up and down those stairs for three hours.

If you're in the New York area, I highly recommend checking this out. You likely won't see anything like it again!


  1. As someone who has sat in the front and back row with you for those shows I have to say that running around the fictional McKittrick Hotel was the most unique performance experience I have ever had. I dreamed about it for a few days afterwards and I would totally go again. It was like walking into a dreamland where David Lynch and Shakespeare and my dreams put on a show for me. Loved it!

  2. I've heard amazing things about this show. And you're so right about New York -- it's absolutely alive with possibility and artistry! I know I sound really cheesy right now but it's true.