Yesterday evening I was at Kensington Central Library taking part in a multi-sensory immersive theatre piece named The Paper Traveller. At around 40 minutes in total – depending on how fast you walk! – the piece is quite short, however, as with all immersive theatre pieces, you get out what you put in.
Arriving at the library a performer welcomes me, explains that I am to become a Paper Traveller and it is a solitary experience. Am I up for the challenge? “Oh yes, I say!“. I am handed a Paper Traveller pack, warned about the danger of books and given a survival kit including headphones, protective globes, a map of the library and a poking stick! I am fully briefed on health and safety and what I am to do if I get lost or experience any difficulties.
I am ready, a red label is placed around my neck identifying me as a Paper Traveller who is on the red route! I am walked to part 1 of the 6 stations of the piece and my story begins.
The piece is part theatre, part treasure hunt, part voyeurism and quite meta. I think it is probably aimed at teenagers and young adults, however, kids of all ages and fans of books, libraries and treasure hunts should enjoy the piece. The more active your imagination and the more creative you are, the more you will get out of this piece.
I set off around the library hunting for clues and listening to excerpts of a ghost story through my headphones. It’s a strange feeling walking around a quiet library; outside it’s dark, it’s eerily creepy as I move amongst the “ordinary library users” who presumably have no idea why there are various people walking around the library wearing headphones and white gloves. At each destination, a simple clue as to your next destination is given. I perform the same ritual at each station to further my journey. Following the instruction to wear my gloves, handle the books I find carefully and to turn on and off the audio. All of these gestures add to the drama of the piece. Like the girl in the audio, I too am exploring unknown territory and not quite sure what is around the corner.
Without giving away the plot, I would state that this is a gentle introduction to immersive theatre. As an audience/participant we are required to tap into multiple senses, and at one point some of our senses are deprived (the best bit of the piece for me). There is a ritualistic element that makes you feel truly embedded into the piece as well as the chance to explore a great library and the books it homes.
All in all, it’s a fun piece which reminded me of the beauty of books, made me want to go home and get stuck into my favourite book. My 15-year-old self would have loved this piece and wanted to do both the red and the white routes.
Review by Faye Stockley
What if books could talk? Go on a treasure hunt across library spaces and discover the imaginary worlds concealed inside books.
Through a series of pop-up books, papercut sets, intimate sound installations and live theatre performances, this immersive show takes you on a storytelling journey through books and explores what happens if you get lost in one.
Writer, director and set designer: Marie Klimis
Composer and sound designer: Andrey Novikov
Performers: Nicole Acquah, Chusi Amoros, Emma Clark, Clare McCall, Dajana Trtanj
Dates and venues:
11, 12 & 13 October
Kensington Central Library:
30 October, 1 & 3 November
Woolwich Centre Library:
8 & 10 November
Westminster Reference Library:
21, 22, 23 & 24 November