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David Byrne to open immersive theatrical show ‘Theater of the Mind’

While David Byrne is currently in the middle of a successful Broadway run for his theatrical production American Utopia, he’s using his downtime to plan another ambitious theatrical endeavour.

The former Talking Heads frontman is planning on opening an immersive project called Theater of the Mind, with themes inspired by historical and recent lab research.

Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne is set to open a new immersive, sensory based theatre production Theater of the Mind.

“It will be in a warehouse, where it’s divided into a bunch of different rooms,” Byrne told Rolling Stone. “A group of 16 audience members will go from room to room and experience these perceptual things. When they leave one room, another group goes in there. That way, you can get 400 people in from 6 p.m. to 10. You get the same number as if it were a theatre show, but you get more in small groups.”

According to the production company 600 Highwaymen, Byrne has previously workshopped a version of Theater of the Mind on Governors Island in New York in late 2017, but he decided to take it to Denver, Colorado instead. “The Denver Center for the Performing Arts have done immersive things like this before — not quite like this — but they’ve cultivated an audience in Denver,” he told Rolling Stone.

He also added that he thinks the Colorado audience will be comfortable with the trippier elements of the production. “I am so convinced that because it’s about perception and sensory stuff, there’s gonna be a lot of gummy bears and other stuff in there,” he said.

Mala Gaonkar, the research analyst who co-wrote the project with Byrne, said in a statement that “for a few years, David and I partnered with several cognitive neuroscience labs to see how some of the most basic human intuitions determine how humans react,”

“What we concluded was the experiments and ideas of the labs we partnered with, several of which we embedded in our narrative, seemed as engaging as any piece of theatre. Theater of the Mind will challenge the ever-changing reality written in our minds and I am thrilled for audiences to think of science and theatre in a new way.”

David Byrne’s Theater of the Mind, presented by the Denver Centre for the Performing Arts Off-Center, is set to open next August. You can find out more about the production here.

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November 8, 2019