Outside the expected entertainment in Central Florida’s many theme parks, a new experiential design company aims to elevate interactive experiences in Orlando.
Beginning with their experience dubbed “The Republic,” Pseudonym Productions is creating forms of entertainment largely unseen by Orlando by mashing up immersive theater, video games, and architecture in entirely unique ways.
Raw and unpredictable, The Republic was a proof-of-concept experience that established the foundation for Pseudonym’s future interactive productions. Billed as a “real life video game,” this experience allowed players to truly control the weird world they found around them.
Across an 18,000 square foot warehouse, an alternate reality formed – a dystopian world inspired by the works of Plato, greek mythology, Fritz Lang’s “metropolis,” and Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil.” No two evenings were ever the same, as the show changed in realtime, live directed based on decisions players make.
Sorted into one of three factions – the Republic, the Office, or the Labyrinth – more than 20 players simultaneously became allies to key characters in a twisted story of deception, sent on missions to spy, sneak, and steal their way to victory.
The Republic was created by veterans of the theme park industry, utilizing the talents and skills of current and former designers from Walt Disney Imagineering and Universal Creative.
The experience made its debut at the 2015 Orlando Fringe Festival, instantly creating buzz around Pseudonym Productions by becoming the first show to completely sell out, also winning the award for Best Show in the “Bring Your Own Venue” category.
This inventive production became an instant phenomenon unlike anything the city has seen, as featured on the front page of the Orlando Sentinel. Players praised its in-depth level of interactivity and the raw energy it created for every participant.
Over its 11-week run (May – July 2015), it invigorated more than 1,000 players and helped solidify Pseudonym’s path toward creating more experiences. Each one of those players took on an important role in the experience’s conflicted society with their actions dictating how the rich story ended – different with each show.
The Republic was by no means a traditional stage show. It wasn’t a haunted house or escape room, either. While borrowing many elements from immersive theater, it wasn’t confined to any emerging immersive theater standards. The Republic was designed as something entirely new.
Within each evening’s experience, boundaries were pushed as players were asked to embody a role and truly become part of the story. Throughout the experience, players were watched, deceived, touched – sometimes even kidnapped. Breaking the traditional stage-audience boundary, The Republic was an immersive experience that surrounded participants with the performance, allowing each audience member to move under their own free will, engaging directly with performers, sets, props, and other interactive features throughout.
More than 25 fully designed, immersive spaces were brought to life through an engaging story delivered by improvisational performers who got up close and hands on. An original musical score and soundtrack helped to immerse players in the world.
A goal of The Republic was to take the idea of a risk-free video game-like environment and turn it into a more ‘real’ setting. Players were given the opportunity to test themselves and push themselves in uncomfortable situations, allowing them to act in the game in ways they never thought they were capable of before. Players were meant to learn more about themselves, as the more they challenged themselves, the more they gained from the experience. Just as in life, those who stood around passively waiting for the experience to come to them may have found themselves feeling isolated and lost, while those who grabbed the minotaur by the horns – so to speak – and paved their own path ultimately got the most out of the experience.
This elaborate adventure was Pseudonym Productions’ first major live experience, laying the groundwork for even bigger plans, using The Republic as a stepping off point to reinvent the future of live entertainment in Orlando.
New immersive experiences from Pseudonym Productions are in the works and those interested in discovering them should follow along at PseudonymProductions.com.
Note: I personally assisted with the creation of The Republic as Technical Director, a position I still have (and enjoy) at Pseudonym Productions – and I hope you will indeed follow us, as there is much more immersive excitement to come in the years ahead.