Fresh off his highly acclaimed Broadway musical American Utopia, Talking Heads frontman David Byrne is creating a new immersive theater experience with constant collaborator Mala Gaonkar. In August 2020, Byrnes and Gaonkar’s production of Theater of the Mind will make its world premiere right here in Denver, thanks to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ Off-Center, as well as Nate Koch, LeeAnn Rossi, and the Arbutus Foundation.
After years of highly experimental and atypical concert and theater productions, it seems as if Byrnes is ready to tear down the fourth wall. Theater of the Mind will do just that. The immersive experience will take 16 audience members at a time through a 15,000-square-foot sensory journey that will “reveal the inner mysteries of the brain.”
“I have long had an interest in creating something that incorporated the sensory experiments we often read about in a way that was entertaining and engaging, but still gave people an experience that was visceral and profound,” said Byrne.
Part narrative, part environment, part science experiment, Theater of the Mind will take immersive theater into exciting new territories. By merging science and theater, Byrne and Gaonkar will be able to simultaneously make neuroscience accessible to more people and help us engage with science in ways we never thought possible.
“For a few years, David and I partnered with several cognitive neuroscience labs to see how some of the most basic human intuitions determine how humans react,” said Gaonkar. “What we concluded was the experiments and ideas of the labs we partnered with, several of which we embedded in our narrative, seemed as engaging as any piece of theatre.”
While we mostly only know the overall structure of the new production at this point, if it’s anything like other Off-Center shows, we’re in for a treat.
“We are so pleased to be premiering Theater of the Mind in Denver with such wonderful partners at the DCPA,” said Byrne. “Off-Center is nationally admired for its immersive work, and they have the skill and experience to bring this complex production to life and the committed audience who will appreciate it.”
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