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8Players: New Immersive Theater Pays Homage To Queer Camp

8Players: New Immersive Theater Pays Homage To Queer Camp


'90s horror junkies—get ready for the ultimate bloody roleplaying. 

I was standing on the southwest corner of Washington Square Park, scantily clad in my sister's black tights, a vintage dress with itchy beading, and a blond wig I had bought on Halloween (when I channeled my fav slasher victim). A simple cursory glance and you'd think I was a rookie drag queen or an unconvincing cosplayer.

But I had actually dressed up for the theater.

I was Alexis--the queen bee, Regina George, total bitch of high school--in the new immersive theatrical pop-series, 8Players. Similarly interactive as Sleep No More and Queen of the Night, 8Players pushes attendees even further by requiring direct participation in the production, deftly navigating the line between social experiment and thespian entertainment. You can't enter 8Players as an omnipotent observer; rather, the show invests in each audience member by having him or her choose a theme of interest and then completing a detailed questionnaire (anything from What's your favorite movie? to Are you willing to play the opposite gender?) a week before the performance. You're then assigned a role, costume, and demanded to show up at some nondescript location (the southwest corner of Washington Square Park for example) on time...or else.

Just as I started to shrug off the stares of passerby, I was quickly and silently escorted by an 8Players staff member to a church halfway down the block. Outside the large oak doors, I was asked to hand over my cellphone (there weren't any mobile devices during that night's theme, ''90s Horror Teen' plot), before being guided up a pitch black staircase into a candle-lit, Gothic sanctuary where dramatic orchestration blasted on surround sound speakers.

I'd immediately learn that 8Players doesn't allow for hesitation, but demands full conviction in its roleplaying schema. Though I'm the first to admit my faulty acting skills, seeing seven other strangers completely absorbed in their parts as high school jocks, nerdy science teachers, or that one weird dude who knows what's really going down, I soon found comfort in Alexis' calculated stares, harsh smirks, and jawbreaking smile. For three hours I was that girl in high school I had always detested from afar, but never approached--and it was fun. Guided through directions and choreography--which consistently change at every show--8Players transported my group to the halls of The Faculty, to chanting sessions from Craft, to Scream's gory finale. Before it was even over, I knew 8Players would be every gay boy's campy wet dream. It certainly was mine.

8Players is running in New York City through January 20. Buy tickets here.

About 8Players:

Since 2013, 8Players has run in NY and LA as a sold-out theatrical pop-up series and is commissioned for private events. In 2015, 8Players world premiered as Opening Night of The Future Of Storytelling summit alongside Al Gore, Edward Snowden, Margaret Atwood and more. Cast and Crew: alumni of Sleep No More, Queen of the Night, Empire T ravel Agency, London' s Y ou Me Bum Bum T rain, and TV's Broad City.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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