Site specific art and performances are all the rage at the moment. July last year saw London shaken up by the joyful prospect of irrevocable change because of the Olympics, then was rudely shaken again by the terrible prospect of irrevocable change because of homegrown terrorism. Artists have responded by grabbing hold of what we've got now to make something beautiful and memorable before it all goes away. Site specific art installations such as China Power Station - Part 1 at Battersea Power Station is an example of the visual arts world exploring this trend and a new production of Faust by site specific magic-makers Punchdrunk is what the performing arts world is doing.
Punchdrunk specialise in taking over old abandoned buildings and making installations, live music and performances within them; audiences are invited to roam freely around the space, following any theme, plot or image that has cuaght their fancy. Anyone attending a Punchdrunk show is completely in control of their own experience and are free to leave at any time and can interact in any way they wish (within reason, of course. Going to the toilet on any part of the event is not acceptable.) Their production of Faust is best described in the company's own words:
"Faust is an indoor promenade performance throughout, lasting approximately 3 hours in two continuous cycles of 90 minutes. After admission, patrons embark upon an individual journey and may stay inside the performance for as long as they wish. Patrons are advised to dress warmly and wear practical shoes. The production takes place at a secret, non-theatre location, half a mile from Tower Bridge."
Not that secret... the National Theatre website gives it all away and the event is actually in Wapping, East London, in a vast, abandoned old archive building. All sounds rather amazing - tickets are going fast so book now.
Faust by Punchdrunk in collaboration with the National Theatre, at super-secret non-theatre venue in Wapping, until 18 November. Tickets are £25.00 - for more information and to book, go to the Punchdrunk website here or the National Theatre website here.