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04 February 2022

David Byrne Reveals Details Of New Immersive Show, ‘Theater Of The Mind’

David Byrne Theater Of The Mind
Photo: Kristoffer Tripplaer/Alamy Stock Photo
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David Byrne has announced details of a new immersive show. Theater Of The Mind is a collaborative stage production between Byrne and his friend Mala Gaonkar, who is a neuroscientist. It debuts in Denver this summer on 31 August before wrapping on 18 December.

A statement said the installation will “take audience members through an immersive journey of self-reflection, discovery, and imagination, inspired by and grounded in neuroscience.” It goes on to describe it as “a visceral theatre experience inspired by neuroscientist experiments”.

Attendees will be participants in sensory experiments intended to “reveal the inner mysteries of the brain”, rather than audience members. Gaonkar and Bryne said the installation is based on scientific experiments and research with scientists, and will make those attending question their realities.

“The experiments and ideas of the labs we met, several of which we embedded in our narrative, seemed as engaging as any piece of theatre,” Gaonkar said in a statement.

Byrne added: “For me, the broader implications that these phenomena have in our lives, our sense of the world and our sense of self is key. We decided that a kind of narrative, the life of The Guide, told backwards, might be a way to connect these experiences to our daily living… and it might introduce an emotional connection as well.”

Theater Of The Mind’ will see groups of 16 enter the exhibition show with a guide. The exhibition will “[use] stories from our own lives to shape a narrative you’ll see, feel, taste and hear,” according to organisers, meaning each of the experiences will be different as they are informed by guest’s individual experiences.

The result, according to organisers, will be that those who attend will “question how beliefs, memories and even our identities are less fixed than we think.”

They added: “Side effects may include a distrust of your own senses, a disorientation of self, and a mild to severely good time. You may not be who you think you are. But we’re all in it together.”

Byrne had previously spoken about his plans for the show to Rolling Stone in 2019.

“It will be in a warehouse, where it’s divided into a bunch of different rooms,” he said at the time. “A group of 16 audience members will go from room to room and experience these perceptual things.

“When they leave one room, another group goes in there. That way, you can get 400 people in from 6 p.m. to 10. You get the same number as if it were a theater show, but you get more in small groups.”

Last December, Byrne’s American Utopia show returned to Broadway in modified form due to the surge in Omicron COVID-19 cases in New York.

American Utopia is held at Broadway’s St. James Theatre. Tickets are on sale now for shows until the end of April 2022.

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