I caught up with James from Quietly Fighting Theatre for a behind-the-scenes look at the production.
Your inspiration for this piece is issues around immigration – why is this a topic you wanted to explore through immersive theatre?
The Grim is about focusing on the lives that are impacted by the immigration debate, specifically within the LGBTQ+ community, and the difficult decisions you’re faced with when caught up in that system.
There’s something quite powerful about walking in someone else’s shoes, and we’re keen to blur the line of what’s acceptable in the afterlife, versus our own.
Immersive storytelling can be a really powerful way of exploring a story, and we’re very excited to see how the audience will interact in our world.
The Vaults is a venue that seems to lend itself to immersive theatre?
This particular production is quite complex, but we’re lucky to have an experienced creative team behind it.
We’re using multiple venues and spaces in the area surrounding the Vaults, which is not without its challenges.
The audience will be journeying from one venue to the next, as guided by our four horsemen of the apocalypse – so there is an element of having to work within the limitations each venue or public space provides. But that’s also part of the fun of immersive storytelling.
If you’ve never been to an immersive theatre show before, is The Grim a good starting point?
I think the Grim would be an excellent starting point, as we’ve tried to create a story that the audience can really interact and play within. There’s an element of choose-your-own-adventure. The audience will be summoned to meet the Grim reaper, and sent on a special assignment – their decisions will likely affect their journey throughout.
While we want to create a world that’s accessible to all, we are limited by the venues that have been available to us. This production will involve some moving around outside, and may not be suitable for everyone. We advise anyone with access issues to get in touch prior to attending.
Who’s the target audience for The Grim?
Throughout the process, our emphasis has been on giving the audience agency in the story, to draw their own conclusions and really immerse themselves in the world we’ve created – regardless of your personal opinions on the issue.
Immersive theatre should always put the audience’s experience at the heart of the show, and we aim for the show to appeal to all.
What’s been your casting process?
The production has always been written with the idea of having a female-identifying/non-binary cast. I’ve always found portrayals of deities as female-identifying – such as Frances Conroy in American Horror Story, or Tilda Swinton in Constantine – more fascinating and powerful. I like writing stories that subvert our expectations of gender, queerness and how we perceive the world around us.
We’re also very lucky to have a wonderful Director, Liam Fleming, on this production, and the casting process has been a joy to watch. The nature of interactive productions requires a lot of playfulness, discipline, and our cast are all experienced and seasoned immersive performers.
What do you hope that people feel when immersing themselves in The Grim?
It’s definitely a lot of fun. We did a preview run at Colab Factory in London Bridge, and the response was overwhelmingly positive.
It’s not your typical immersive theatre production, and we’re really excited to open the doors to the afterlife.