The Stranger 2.0 is the latest immersive experience offered by DopoLavoro Teatrale (DLT). This company is dedicated to what they call audience specific theatre—highly interactive productions where you, the audience member, become the protagonist of a mysterious urban adventure.
Participants are emailed details of time and location 24 hours in advance, along with a set of instructions that include key information about the experience. Here’s one that caught my attention: You may be blindfolded.
I showed up to the designated location and a stranger came to meet me. I was then passed off to a series of strangers who led me around a building, down some streets, played games with me, engaged me in conversation, and encouraged me to examine my own experience.
The Stranger 2.0 has plenty of visual/auditory stimuli and requires some situational awareness and willingness to participate in a variety of activities. I can’t reveal much more without spoiling the experience, but you should know: to get the most out of it, be prepared to feel vulnerable in front of strangers, willing to talk a little about yourself, participate in some physical activity (like running and jumping), and open to moderate touch.
Creator Daniele Bartolini has crafted an experience that is structured around specific environments and designed to prompt responses from you. It is these responses that determine the specifics of your personalized journey. Ahead of time, you choose one of two possible treks—cryptically named Above and Below. From there, you open your mind and allow the performers and environments to draw ideas and feelings out of you.
This is the first time The Stranger features a virtual reality component. And it was also my first-ever experience of VR. I imagine this is a relatively mild and minimalist example of the tech, though I did find the content of this element, developed by toasterlab, eerie and thought-provoking.
So much of The Stranger 2.0 is enigmatic and inspires introspection. With my relatively mild yet ever-present social anxiety, there were moments—mostly early on—when the experience made me slightly uncomfortable. But the performers are so inviting and supportive, so non-judgemental, that the spaces around me always felt safe and full of intriguing potential.
If you’re game, The Stranger 2.0 can be a lot of fun, quite beautiful, and may even challenge your perspective and expand your comfort zone.