The World of Immersion

Slowly the concepts of immersive theatre are washing over our country and gaining common understanding. They come from places such as London & New York where the phenomena has been popular for years. For experienced immersive fans this is an exciting and long anticipated development, but other audience members who prefer to vanish in the red velvet of a comfortable chair can find the participatory nature difficult to digest. In this newsletter we dive a little deeper into the world of immersion...

The last decade the world of immersive theatre has been growing steadily with an audience that is eager to fully immerse themselves in stories. Popular immersive companies such as Punchdrunk and Secret Cinema create spectacular productions and invite the audience to participate in a temporary reality. Guests arrive dressed extravagantly according to a specific dress code and in return the spectacular set design, specialist actors and scenographic items guarantee a fantastical immersive adventure. 

The recent boom in immersive theatre is undeniable, it seems an emerging desire to be more than spectators has taken over. Perhaps we have become more used to getting sucked into alternative worlds like into our social accounts, video games or VR. To interact and experience a new reality with other people can be surprisingly enjoyable. You can discover other sides of yourself and the people around you, which create exciting and interesting situations. 

So for those hesitant to immerse, why not give it a go? Because, even though it can be a relief to disappear in the darkness, maybe something or someone can surprise you in ways you cannot (yet) imagine.



At Buro Curious we implement immersive elements as a directive to enable all the senses and create an impactful experience. It evokes a sense of curiosity in our audience, regarding each other and the world around them. We were interested to reflect on the importance of this curiosity and the tools you need to achieve this with another immersive maker.

This newsletter we asked Francine Boon from Sherlocked to share her experience:

What makes an experience ‘immersive’ in your eyes?

When I have the feeling that I’ve stepped into a complete other world. At a regular theatre performance you enter a theatre that is part of our real world. But an immersive theatre dives its audience into a world that is a complete and new reality that has been designed to enhance the story. And I want ‘it’ to feel real. 

It can definitely help to have actors around that make you feel part of the story by addressing you in a certain way, handing you objects or guiding you into a part of the world. But also an experience without actors can feel real. At Sherlocked we put tremendous effort in the design principle we call ‘touch real’. We make sure that the story we want to tell in our escape rooms is sensible in all objects, storylines and locations you encounter. When you find a drawer, you need to be able to open it and find something real inside it. This item should be created from the exact materials that were used in the time period your story takes place in. An immersive world makes you forget that it is created for you. Within it you should never encounter something that is ‘not real’ and gives you a ‘huh?’ moment that breaks the spell. 

Why are immersive experiences important? 

I feel they create a safe environment where you can practice ‘being human’. It gives you a way to experiment with all facets of your being. All of a sudden you can become the hero, enjoy the art of lying or be a rebel. You may discover parts of yourself you might not encounter in your daily life. Sometimes these qualities can enrich your life or help you develop as a person. With my work I hope to pitch in on this process of surprising yourself and the people around you. 

What tools do you use at Sherlocked to create a feeling of immersion?

Our main strategy is making sure that something feels real, we call it‘touch real’ design. We take this principle very far and apply it on both materials, as well as story elements. The story we craft also needs to have a basis in reality and connect to the location we’re going to use.This translates in the authenticity of the participants' experience. 

For example: Sherlocked is located in the ‘Beurs van Berlage’, a monumental former stock exchange that harbors several authentic areas such as the original vault complex.. We start with the space we have and slowly build the right atmosphere related to the story we’re trying to tell. The historic character of the building helped us to create a convincing ‘Alchemist’s library’. The story told in The Alchemist is based on a lot of research on real Alchemy, and what you’d expect in a story around alchemy, like potion making, planetary systems and science. Blurring the fine line between reality and fiction results in a feeling that you’re a part of something real.  

Do you think the Netherlands are ready for immersive theatre?

First off: I’m thrilled that immersive theatre is gaining ground in the Netherlands. I think it's best if we introduce the existing, traditional theatre audience slowly into this new world, for example by creating an experience around an already known story. This way people can more easily relate and feel safer to explore upon entering the experience. The setting and rules of the experience should be very clear upon entrance, so people are enabled to participate more curiously and freely.

The newest Sherlocked experience The Alchemist will launch in January 2023, make sure you don't miss it.


Buro Curious is a group of creators as divers as her projects. Each edition we have one of these individuals make a colorful selection of moments they wouldn’t want to miss. This time: 

Ella Gil | Co-Founder & Creator at Buro Curious
Specialized as a location theatre maker and over the years I have become a massive fan of immersive theatre. Currently I am working on a Stipendium granted by AFK that focussed on the senses and their contribution to immersive experiences to deepen my practice as a creator.

The Burnt City | Punchdrunk
It’s hard to refer to immersive theatre and not mention one of the founders of the genre: Punchdrunk. I was lucky enough to get lost twice in their newest massive production in London ‘The Burnt City’. It tells the myth of Troy and Greece in a massive space through choreography, sound and impactful scenographic sets with a lot of eye for detail. With their policy of audience members hiding behind masks, it makes for an accessible (first time) immersive experience. I recommend you get lost in their world if you’re visiting London in the coming months. 

Algorithmic Perfumery EveryHuman
There is this magic place on the internet where you can ask an algorithm to create yóur very personal perfume. The scent is based on your online answers to 24 diverse, fun and very personal (multiple choice) questions that are instructed to generate a perfume that embodies your true essence. You’ll receive 3 small bottles of ‘yourself’ that fit right through the mailbox. It’s a pleasure to wear yourself. 

De geur van het Internet EXPO 38CC
A whole space dedicated to works that embody the internet in all its beauty and ugliness is already very appealing to me but the fact that they also asked an artist to create the scent of the internet makes it even more special. The expo and the scent are welcoming you until February the 19th and added special scent performances by Cesar Marjorana are happening on 17th of December, 21th of January & 18th of February. 



Buro Curious
Wibautstraat 150 - 0.70
1091 GR Amsterdam

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Experience company · Wibautstraat 150 - 0.70 · Amsterdam, Nh 1091 GR · Netherlands

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