Beneath The Darkness

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Currently, the brand new production "BENEATH THE DARKNESS" has not yet received press.
However, the following is a collection from The Alchemist Theatre's first immersive production

"BENEATH THE DARKNESS" takes what we learned from "FAUST" and has greatly expanded upon the model, combining an immersive, dramatic story with "escape room" type puzzles and thousands more square feet of detailed sets to explore and interact with.

…productions at the Alchemist never shy away from herculean challenges…. Faust: An Evening

at the Mephisto Theatre, continues in that tradition, marrying a long, complex script with drama

that travels throughout the building. Scenes have been written for multiple stages, and the

action runs concurrently throughout the space. In effect, Kopec has written several interlocking

plays that also stand alone. The audience is free to move from room to room, scene to scene,

as the drama progresses. With a huge cast inhabiting the entire building, this is one of the most

ambitious productions of the theater season. (Shepherd Express, 10/6/11)

Good theater pulls a viewer into the story. When it's done right, talented theater professionals can almost make an audience feel as if they were living in the world portrayed on stage.

If they can work that kind of magic from a stationary point in a theater, it makes sense that constructing a tangible world for the audience to explore, observe and move through at their whim could breathe even more realism into the life of a story.

That logic is at the root of the Alchemist Theatre's one-of-a-kind upcoming production of "Faust: An Evening at the Mephisto Theatre." (OnMilwaukee, 9/13/11)

It’s more than just illusion, though . . . there’s talk of a dark figure walking around the shadows

who just might be the antagonist spoken of in the original legend…..The story plays out on

multiple stages throughout the basement and ground floor of the Alchemist Theatre building.

Not a completely interactive show, interaction forms part of the narrative. Everyone carries their

own personal theatre with them through a space, which allows for an incredible amount of

intimacy with actors and story….we’re relating to the action in a space that we’re also interacting

with, albeit on a superficial level. It almost feels kind of uncomfortably voyeuristic staring at this

couple as they’re having this conversation because it has only the faintest hint of transcendently

artificial theatricality…..but it was kind of surprising just how many moments there were like that

where the rest of the audience ends up somewhere else…no two people are going to

experience this the same way. This is one of the single most unique theatre experiences I’ve

ever had. Precisely why this is defies easy definition. Somehow the whole thing ends with a sign

along from some journey’s early 1980’s escape and though it’s completely anachronistic, it

makes perfect sense. (Shepherd Express, 10/1/11)

Because the audience is free to roam, the technical blocking of Faust was intense and complicated. Kopec is confident that everyone will get the basic arcs of the on-stage and off-stage stories. Some scenes will repeat several times, to afford maximum exposure, and somes scenes performed in disparate locations will convey some of the same vital information.

Still, this Faust is like those choose-your-own-adventure books, as everyone’s experience will differ. The show is designed to draw attention in many different directions, to force you to decide for yourself the show you want to see.  (Urban Milwaukee, 9/28/11)

The real ambitious end of the production is the fact that it’s written for multiple “stages” within

the building, which houses the Alchemist. Kopec is writing a script with characters that move in

and out of scenes on multiple levels all over the building…. it can be a lot of fun for the

audience-every single member of which gets a distinctly different experience….Each member of

the audience is free to move in and around the space as they likekind of a high-end high-

concept haunted house version of horror theatre . . .(Shepherd Express, 7/8/11)

…almost every space in The Alchemist becomes a stage. The audience is encouraged to move

into the basement, where the show unfolds across all 6,000 square feet of the venue….The

show is not meant to take place in chronological order, but rather to feel like a dream….There is

no way that an audience member can know everything that is happening, as so many scenes

are taking place all at once. Some of the major scenes were repeated, and the important points

were incorporated into more than one scene, so the audience is never lost, no matter what

order they view the scenes in…..This way of storytelling can be confusing, but also interesting.

Each audience member sees the show in a unique perspective. Everyone witnesses different

scenes, so no one has the same viewing experience. Anything left unexplained is up to the

viewer’s interpretation. (Marquette Wire, October 6, 11)

….This juxtaposition comments on the art and business of theater: Sometimes, what happens

on stage is nothing compared to the drama of life in the theater…… Voyeurism is part of the

appeal. To heighten the frisson, Alchemist will issue masks to each member of the audience…..

Still, this Faust is like those choose-your- own-adventure books, as everyone’s experience will

differ. The show is designed to draw attention in many different directions, to force you to decide

for yourself the show you want to see. ( Urban Milwaukee, 9/28/11)

Actively following characters through the show and receiving limited instructions about

reconciling missing information in the story in real-time, presents real life challenges to the

audience both physically and psychologically that actors tend to embrace naturally. As an

audience member that is a part of the actors world but not in it, one can have a lot of fun with

Faust just taking the “fly-on- the-wall” approach to social situations. Audience members are

provided a masquerade to assist in this transformation. (Local Trolley, 10/6/11)