If you are either going to London within the next month or just fancy trying something new, then you should definitely consider going to Future Cinema’s continuation of Secret Cinema’s The Shawshank Redemption.
Secret Cinema launched in December 2007 when it screened Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park to 400 people under London Bridge and since then it has staged nineteen different productions which over 120,000 people have attended. Secret cinema was founded by Fabien Riggall with the aim of ‘creating an immersive experience in which the audience becomes part of the narrative.’
Secret Cinema does not reveal the film they base their productions on to anyone (including ticket holders). I attended their production of The Shawshank Redemption just before the festive season and was sent two instructional emails: the first giving me an identity and instructions of what to wear and the second revealing the location of where I needed to travel to (up until nearly the day of performance I only knew that it was going to be somewhere in London.) I found the whole experience leading up to the production puzzling but at the same time exciting as I had never been to such an interactive theatre experience before.
…I would then be given a prison sentence…
I knew I had to arrive wearing some form of suit attire and Cuban heels or flat shoes and that I would be presented in front of a judge under ‘The State of Oak Hampton.’ On arrival I was greeted by a shifty lawyer who explained what would happen: my case would be put on trial and I would then be given a prison sentence. I immediately felt as though I had walked into a different era, both the acting and the costume were outstanding and I only wanted to discover more. I was sentenced to two years imprisonment (which was decided by a particularly menacing judge) and was then taken to the prison in vintage prison transportation. Many different events occurred on arrival, one situation that remains poignant in my memory is the screams I heard from one unfortunate prisoner being dragged through the prison after being brutally attacked (all actors but extremely realistic). After I had partaken in different activities the film The Shawshank Redemption was then played for all prisoners to watch.
I did not want to reveal all the details of the night as anyone who reads this may attend Future Cinema and all the surprises would have been tainted. It is a unique experience and I am more than pleased that Future Cinema has decided to continue this production (as it stands) until the final weekend of February 2013.