VAINGLORIOUS: THE EPIC FEATS OF NOTABLE PERSONS IN EUROPE AFTER THE REVOLUTION
Applied Mechanics makes theater for spies and wallflowers. You may find secrets or treats. There are things to taste here and touch and smell and read. There are many ways to follow a narrative, many stories to discover. This is immersive theater. The world is alive and you are invited to enter it. Stories unfold all around you and you can choose what you want to watch and from what angle. The characters never leave; they don’t go off stage, they don’t exit. They share their world with you and you share the performance space with them. This is an exercise in citizenship, not a passive consumer experience where your role is to receive. No, your role is to engage. In the large-scale historical fantasia “Vainglorious: The Epic Feats of Notable Persons in Europe After the Revolution,” 26 performers joined forces with Applied Mechanics to the great sweep of the Napoleonic Empire in the wake of the French Revolution. Napoleon Bonaparte, played by Mary Tuomanen, rises to fame through his military prowess and goes on to conquer much of Europe and rule as Emperor of France. Meanwhile, in Vienna, a musical genius named Ludwig van Beethoven experiences his own meteoric rise. Simultaneously, literary star Germaine de Stael invents comparative literature and the wheeling dealing diplomat Talleyrand, played by five actors simultaneously, reinvents political strategy, while Josephine de Beauharnais, played by John Jarboe, redefines First Lady style and grace. This heavily populated immersive play built cities with canvas, countries with bodies and heroes with attitude, enveloping its audience in a lush world of fame, sensuality, conflict and ambition. The swell of history overtakes the audience and the battling factions of the Napoleonic Empire duke it out before your very eyes. The audience is invited to join the performers as they rally around celebrities, tear down tyrants and ride the contentious tides of change.
Before entering the space, the audience received the following instructions:
There is no seating in this piece; you are invited to share the floor with the performance, to explore the space, to choose your angle on the story. Once the show starts, there will be many scenes happening simultaneously. Feel free to explore, to watch from any angle, to follow whichever character you choose.
If a character asks you to move, please oblige. If a character offers you food or drink, help yourself!
On the front of your program is a map of our world. If you wish, you can use it to plan your route around the space. Enjoy the show. We’re so glad you’re here.
Love, Applied Mechanics.