ODDITIES – The Speakeasy Society: The Door – California

SPEAKEASY SOCIETY

CHAPTER 3 – THE DOOR 

You know a show is gonna be great when it sells our in 3 hours and it was amazing. Please note that this review contains spoilers. Expect all three chapters to go into production again this year, so if you’d like to experience the show without any prior knowledge then I recommend you do not continue reading.

KansasCollection_CH3_1.JPG

Full Cast (left to right) Matthew Bamberg- Johnson as Phil Daring, Nora King as Dorothy Gale, John Henningsen as Lyman, John McCormick as Oscar Diggs (The Wizzard), Genevieve Gearhart as Phoebe Daring

My husband and I arrived and were escorted to a porch-like area to meet with Lyman along with another couple. We spoke with him about the themes of each chapter so far. Chapter 1 was about hope, Chapter 2 opportunity and Chapter 3 the future. The five of us discussed the difference between destiny and inevitable consequence. Within a few minutes the wizard entered to escort us into the house.  He inquired as to whether we had brought our keys, as they were very important to what was to come.

Upon entering the house I couldn’t help but feel curious about those who resided there. It was so lived in, unlike what I have come to expect from a theatrical set. As we entered the living room we were introduced to Dorothy. We had our first decision to make. As a group we decided who she was. Then the wizard did a card reading where we each got involved. In an unexpected turn of events Phil and Phoebe/Ozma entered the room through a magical door. They took Dorothy back with them and we were sent on our way.

Overall the show was interesting and unique. The actors were absolutely amazing. It is a wonderfully fun way to be immersed in the retelling of these classic stories. I felt that even though Chapter 3 was the smallest audience per show, somehow it felt the least intimate. I really love what they are doing with The Kansas Collection though.  I can’t wait for Chapter 4.

ODDITIES – Speakeasy Society: The Key – California

SPEAKEASY SOCIETY: THE KEY

YouTube Review

We’re off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz…or are we?

It’s a choice. Make a choice. Should you or shouldn’t you see him? Either choice is a choice, so make a choice. The most beautiful thing about The Kansas Collection is the amount of choices you must make. Sometimes you may not even realize you are making them, but this theatrical event mirrors life in that way.

The Key is chapter one of The Kansas Collection. This was my first time experiencing Speakeasy Society’s work. I’d heard about it from all of my immersive theatre friends, so I had to check it out. I went in blind. I had no idea that the show had anything to do with the Wizard of Oz. Honestly, I didn’t even realize it was The Kansas Collection. I just knew everyone loved it and it had something to do with keys.

My husband and I attended the show together. We got our tickets online and eventually received the location in an email. Upon check-in I saw many familiar faces from the immersive theatre community waiting by the fire staying warm since the event took place outside and it a was chilly Los Angeles evening. Everyone was excited for the show and waiting their turn to be called back for their two person show. When Jeremiah and I were summoned to begin we first met with a vibrant character. (I would later find out his name is Lyman.) He set the mood by asking us questions and getting us involved. He then sent us into a tent to fill out a form. While completing our forms I asked the character Jo what the date was. He responded in a rather unusual way explaining that time works differently moving between Kansas and Oz. Then Jeremiah and I were sent in different directions to meet with our individual recruiters for the EC (Emerald City) to serve the Scarecrow King. I pledged my loyalty to the Scarecrow King. I didn’t just say the words, I meant them. I was told to be observant and avoid the man in the hat before being sent on my way back to the fire. I knew where the man in the hat was. I had seen other participants walking up to him and chatting. I wasn’t sure what to do. I talked with my friends for a bit and asked a few of them if they had been told not to speak to him or if I was “supposed to” anyway. Eventually with the encouragement of my friends I approached him hesitantly. I made that choice, even though I was told not to by my recruiter and had honestly pledged allegiance to the Scarecrow King. It was a moment of weakness. I received some information from him, waited while Jeremiah did the same and then we were off on another adventure.

I’ve only been involved in the immersive theatre community for the last year or so and in that time I’ve experienced a handful of immersive events. Some of them included alternate reality games that lasted months before the paid events, but none of them worked quite the same way as this unique form of storytelling. Speakeasy Society sets the bar for this particular form of interactive storytelling. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. The shows are fairly short compared to traditional theatre, but incredibly impactful. They are separated into many chapters. Each chapter is another theatrical event moving the overall story forward. It’s brilliant. I was not only impressed with the format and execution of the theatrical piece, I thought the actors did an amazing job.

Overall I’m very impressed with Speakeasy Society and can’t wait to experience the upcoming chapters of The Kansas Collection.

Black Matter Foundation

WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO OF MY EXPERIENCE HERE
BLACK MATTER FOUNDATION 

What is the Black Matter Foundation? Is it real? Is it some sort of alternate reality game? Is it a promo for Half Life 3? Is it connected to Stranger Things?

These are just some of the questions I’ve been asked over the past few days. Honestly…I don’t know.

I won’t get into the information posted on their website, I’d rather you go there for that information. In this post I will share my personal experience so far.

7 pm Tuesday. I receive a Facebook message from my friend Matt asking if I saw the posts on the escape room Facebook group for Black Matter Foundation. I had not. Matt explained that a seemingly fake Facebook user named Edward Talbert had posted the link to the website in the group. However when I searched for “Edward Talbert” I was unable to find him. I did however find the Black Matter Foundation website, so I sent an email. I also started reaching out to my extreme haunt/ARG friends to see if anyone had heard about it. Nobody had.

Now I would like to pretend that I was clever and creative and sent a unique proposal or something fun, but in reality it was late, I was tired and just sent a wordy email blatantly asking “is this an ARG?”

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a quick and professional reply:

Dear Christine, 

Thank you for taking the time to reach out to us, we appreciate your interest in our organization. Unfortunately due to the confidentiality of our work and the covert nature of our clients we are unable to disclose much information regarding our foundation. 

However, we have found that individuals who retain the inquisitive nature you seem to possess often excel within our foundation. If you find the time we would love to have you come in to our testing campus, for a free no cost evaluation. Our foundation projects are well funded and will never ask for monetary compensation. 

While we recognize that withholding information may not provide you with the answers you seek in entirety, we hope that you can see the bigger picture at play here. Please accept our apologies. 

Black Matter Foundation

Needless to say I got a bit excited. I responded to them immediately and started blasting my Interactive theatre friends online with the website asking if anyone had heard about this. Nobody had. However, many of them also got interested and started crafting proposals to send to Black Matter Foundation via email.

A day passes.

Late Thursday night. Last email check before letting my phone slip out of my hand and crash on my face as I drift to sleep…or so I think. Nope. I see an email from Black Matter Foundation:

Thank you for your interest in Black Matter Foundation. We take pride in capturing the best and brightest minds alive. Testing will begin shortly, applications can now be submitted for those with an access code. We hope to be seeing you soon.

 Black Matter Foundation

There is an audio attachment included in this email. Adrenaline kicks in and I’m wide awake “solving” the file. I aquire my password and use it to access an online questionnaire which I won’t go into depth about here because I don’t want to give away Spoilers for others wanting to participate. But I will say it was made up of fun, thought provoking questions. I submitted my answers.

I will admit it was a bit of a challenge to solve the audio file and complete the questions on my cell phone, especially since so many of my friends were pinging my phone through Facebook, Slack and Texts about, you guessed it, Black Matter Foundation.

When I checked on Tuesday I couldn’t really find anything online about it, however tonight I know many were discussing it on Reddit and Facebook.

I will be sure to post again when I find out more…hopefully after visiting the Testing Campus.

2:15am Friday. Posting Black Matter Foundation blog post.

Oh and check out this Craigslist ad:

Oddities – California

Here are some of the unusual places and events I’ve attended in California. Click the link to read about my experience. Each blog post will include a link to the website for the “oddity” when possible so you may plan your own visit. These are listed in no particular order. If you have any questions feel free to tweet me @christinebarger

Unique Locations:

Rockhaven

Events:

Speakeasy Society: The Key

Speakeasy Society: The Axe

Speakeasy Society: The Door

The Lust Experience

Past Events:

Have You Seen Jake (ARG & Interactive Theatre)

Black Matter Foundation

The Tension Experience (Part 1) The Tensions Experience: End of Indoctrination (Part 2) <The next event is The Lust Experience coming February 2017>

 

Immersive Theatre – Los Angeles

Recently I’ve gotten involved in the immersive theatre and alternate reality game (ARG) communities here in Los Angeles and I couldn’t find a good reference list anywhere, so I’m creating one. Please note some of these experiences are more intense than others.

This list of immersive theatre is in no particular order and should link you directly to each company’s website.

The Lust Experience 

Have You Seen Jake   ***read my blog post here***

Heretic

Speakeasy Society

Screenshot productions

Sanction

The ABC Project

Unbound

Hamlet Mobile

Shine On Collective 

Alone

Creep

Blackout

Vescorp

Delusion

Modern Masters

 

 

 

Have You Seen Jake?


Jake is missing! 

Will you help us find him? 

Join the search party HERE.

The website describes this experience as follows, “Have You Seen Jake is an immersive, experiential theatrical project that is highly curated and specifically customized for each participant. The experience evolves based on your level of engagement and the interactions of the rest of the search party. Search party members will be engaged through telephone calls, emails, text messaging, social media, small group in-person interactions, fully realized experiences – and perhaps other means.” 

So far I’ve found it to be a fascinating journey. I jumped into the search party near the beginning in early October. I have regular text communications with my friend Jake, however I’m still fuzzy on how we know each other. The forgetting sickness has really affected me. I am pretty sure I’m also friends with Heather and Jesse, but again forgetting sickness has made our history a bit foggy for me. I enjoy chatting with Blue and the community on the Slack chat group where we share personal stories and theories, as well as solve puzzles together. Many photos and videos appear regularly on the Instagram.

I’ve already attended two in person events.

The first was a search party event at a park where a small group of us found a few things and then met a young man that left us to fend for ourselves when THEY showed up blaring Clementine and staring at us through creepy animal masks. 

The second was an event in which small groups of participants from the search party met Jake’s friend at a bar. His sister showed up and we were given instructions to individually explore his last residence that same evening. While searching through the motel room I came across a Dream diary, books, and more. However I did not find what I was looking for (a certain book) before three of THEM in animal masks came at me forcing me to my knees and telling me to beg before I wound up facedown on the bed being told that I had indeed failed Jake and branding me with the words “Dead Dummy” across my back in marker. (For those of you that don’t know, I’m a ventriloquist.) 

Tonight Jesse called asking about my upcoming planned trip to the Magic Castle. This was my first time speaking to him throughout the experience so far. I have to say the amount of customization has been impressive. You can see the drawing SHE posted of me from their Instagram account below.


I already have my tickets for the ticketed event Therapy & Dreams next month. (Did I mention all of the interactions and events have been at no cost so far?) I’m very excited to continue interacting with all of my old friends that I am remembering and the not so friendly characters too. 

Dates also announced for the next two ticketed events: Water & Fire in February and Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow in March.

HAUNT – The Tension Experience ASCENSION – CA – 2016

THE TENSION EXPERIENCE ASCENSION

5 Stars (of 5)

Do you seek Enlightenment? The OOA Institute can help.

For the past seven months I have been part of a fascinating alternate reality game through The Tension Experience. It’s the wonderfully unique creation of Darren Lynn Bousman and Clint Sears. A community formed on the forums at the website. As the story unfolded participants chose sides between the OOA Institute and those against the OOA sided with the BOS. I have remained loyal to the OOA even though others have called it a cult.

You can read more about my early experiences with the OOA HERE as well as the event that wrapped up the first chapter of The Tension Experience called Indoctrination HERE.

As Indoctrination ended, it made way for the beginning of Ascension.

Ascension is a beautifully done event that can’t really be compared to anything else in Los Angeles. It’s a unique blend of interactive haunt, theatre, escape room, and more. It is a stand alone event so you don’t need to have any prior knowledge of the story. You will be immersed the the story whether or not you know anything at all about it going into the event.

However, if you have the time I recommend checking out the forums on The Tension Experience website. It is one of the warmest most welcoming online communities I’ve encountered. I’ve made real life friends through the forum. Actually the entire group with whom I attended Ascension were friends I’ve made on the forum.

This is a good point at which to mention I have never done an extreme haunt. To be honest I was a bit worried about Ascension because it seemed like all of my friends from The Tension Experience community loved extreme haunts and I had never done Alone or Blackout or anything like that. Well I’m pleased to say I didn’t call the safe word (I did think about it once).

Don’t get me wrong, it IS INTENSE. However it is not the type of extreme haunt where you just get beaten and humiliated, so if you watched The Blackout Experiment documentary know that this is different. The Tension Experience is so much more. It’s more psychological and less physical than I expected. It’s much more about creating an individual experience for each participant through storytelling that leaves an impression.

A little advice for your adventure into Ascension:

  • Do your best to attend with an open mind and be ready to be present in the moment.
  • Do not wear your favorite outfit or shoes as they may get dirty.
  • Leave your cell phone, jewelry, valuables at home or in the car. Believe me it felt weird not wearing my wedding ring, but I was so glad I left it at home for the event.
  • Do not be late. You will have a specific arrival time. Think of this as a performance more than a haunt. Give yourself ample time for traffic and finding the parking lot.
  • Use the bathroom before arriving and don’t drink a bunch of liquids. It is at least 2 hours without bathroom breaks.

Glory be!