You may look, but do not touch,” says the dapper man at the door before taking a sip of his drink and ushering a group of audience members into the OBERON – a theater and nightclub within the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.). From this point onward in “AcousticaElectronica,” no matter how close one gets to the performers, no matter how touchy-feely they are with the audience, there is an inescapable sense that everything is happening at a distance. Despite the fact that the performers sometimes weave through the crowded dance floor, the fourth wall is still firmly in place. Nevertheless, “AcousticaElectronica” is perhaps one of the most immersive theatrical performance events out there.
The show takes place in A.R.T.’s second stage, so patrons can choose between two distinct ways of experiencing the performance: the full bar and table service or the dance floor. The party starts around 10:30 p.m. and continues on during the show itself – the audience is completely free to dance on stage with the actors before the performance and off to the side once it starts. With house music blaring and people cheering, the energy is in a constant crescendo.
The atmosphere of “AcousticaElectronica” is carefully crafted. For example, the initial announcement asking the audience to avoid getting too close to the performers bears little resemblance to the strict “no cellphone” opening announcements that are standard at other theaters. Instead, this message is delivered in such a way that lets attendees know that they are in for a night full of all-inclusive enjoyment. Another instance of this built atmosphere is in the pre-show: performers dance on the stage and on the dance floor