Last Updated on September 8, 2021
A sneak peek at the big changes coming to this ground-breaking immersive theatre company.
Last Thursday London Unattached had the privilege of viewing the behind-the-scenes magic that makes Punchdrunk one of the most interesting London theatre companies. They’ve moved into an enormous space in the Woolwich Arsenal which, in partnership with Greenwich Council, has been redeveloped into what may prove to be a new hub for the arts in South-East London.
But what is Punchdrunk? It’s not a conventional theatre company certainly. Creating immersive and interactive theatre experiences for more than 20 years now, Punchdrunk is a pioneering company with productions in person, television and even gaming. They are most famous for shows in which they take over large urban spaces and create narratives through performance and set design that the audience must take a part in uncovering. They recently worked with Sky TV on a single take, 12-hour live event as part of Dennis Kelly’s drama ‘The Third Day’ which earned them a BAFTA nomination.
You won’t just be travelling to Woolwich to see Punchdrunk in the next few months however, this new theatre will be joining Luca Silvestrini’s Protein Dance and the Chineke! Orchestra in the Woolwich Works redevelopment that opened last year. Travel South-East is also being made easier with a new Crossrail station opening nearby offering 15-minute trips down from Liverpool Street. Punchdrunk won’t just be catering to its traditional audience however, as along with creating 120 jobs for residents, local A-Level drama students will be able to attend a masterclass run by this award-winning organisation.
We were shown around one of the spaces that will be the location for their new play ‘The Burnt City’, a Fritz Lang meets Usbourne Book of Greek Myths retelling of the fall of Troy. While many of the details of the production felt quite far off, as we were shown around a very large empty warehouse, complete with high-vis jackets, Co-Director Felix Barrett’s spirited explanations for what would be made of say a reinforced steel pillar, certainly promised an immersive and exciting experience.
With robust Arts Council England support, along with car company Porsche providing financial backing, ‘The Burnt City’ is sure to live up to the description we received. The level of secrecy surrounding the project, almost at clandestine levels, is a testament to the popularity of the company and the diligence of the production. What we have been allowed to tell you is that this production will ask its audience to enter a dream world of Greece and Troy mixed with Weimar creativity and if you’re willing to take the plunge, it’s sure to be a thrilling adventure.