Enveloping Worlds

Toward a Discourse of Immersive Performance

Subjects: Theater and Performance, American Studies
Ebook : 9780472905003, 288 pages, 13 figures, 6 x 9, April 2025
Paperback : 9780472057405, 288 pages, 13 figures, 6 x 9, April 2025
Hardcover : 9780472077403, 288 pages, 13 figures, 6 x 9, April 2025
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A collection analyzing immersive, participatory performances as it has developed in the U.S.


Enveloping Worlds is a collection of essays that analyzes the phenomenon of immersive, participatory performance as it has developed in the US. As this collection demonstrates, immersive performance offers three-dimensional multisensory experiences, inviting audience members to be participants in the unfolding of the story, and challenging pre-existing ideas about the function of performance and entertainment. Enveloping Worlds questions audience agency and choice, the space and boundaries of performance, modes of immersion, empathy and engagement, and ethical considerations through fifteen essays. 

Case studies in the volume include the Choctaw Cultural Center in Oklahoma and Choctaw sovereignty; a Black artist’s autoethnographic performance challenging White audiences’ entitlement to full inclusion; Immersive Van Gogh experiences and their scenographers; telephone performance during the COVID-19 lockdowns; Diane Paulus’s The Donkey Show; the Battle of Atlanta panorama; an antebellum-themed department store display from the 1920s; escape rooms at Disney Parks; remotely staged plays about aging and dementia; tiki bars; anachronistic costuming at Renaissance Festivals; the technologies that shape the boundaries of immersive worlds; and tabletop role-playing games. Taken together, these essays contribute a rich discussion of immersive performance across radically different contexts, offering analytical models and terminology with which to clarify and advance this emergent discourse.

E.B. Hunter is Assistant Professor of Drama at Washington University in St. Louis.
Scott Magelssen is Professor of Theatre History and Performance Studies at the University of Washington. He is the author of Performing Flight: From The Barnstormers to Space Tourism, Simming: Participatory Performance and the Making of Meaning, and co-editor of Theater Historiography: Critical Interventions