Sarah Atkinson
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Helen W. Kennedy
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Secret Cinema as format
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This chapter tracks the continued evolution of the SC format across thirteen productions over the five years from 2013 to 2018. The development of both the productions and the organisation are shaped by two further tensions which we identify as: Participation to Passivity; and Covert and Clandestine to Commercial and Commodified. These are epitomised by the largest production of this period – Back to the Future – which marked a significant turning point in SC’s evolution so far where the impact of the shift from the organisation’s clandestine roots to a more commercialised operation led to significant challenges, disruptions and discomfort for both the producers and audiences alike. Through an examination of all thirteen productions, we show how the format has evolved to cater for much larger audience numbers, and much longer runs. We lay out a set of experience design principles and their associated experiential aesthetics as they are encountered by the audiences, covering pre-ticket promotion; pre-narrative experience; and engagement. We take an in-depth look into the in-world microsites, social media accounts, flash mobs and pop-ups; the different places, sites and spaces of the productions; the pre-screening show and the screening itself.

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