Immersive theater offers guests an intimate journey of discovery, of freedom, and of playful exploration. It creates a world that holds so many secrets and moments to be uncovered. So, when I was introduced to The Guest and The Host: Make Music, a new immersive exploration of music by co-creators Spencer Williams and Andrew Heringer, I wondered how the immersive elements would transition without a narrative to drive the performance.
I was impressed at how immersive, how intimate, how memorable, and how personal the experience was.
The Guest and The Host: Make Music, at its core, is a collaboration between guest and host, in which an audience member or two works with Heringer to produce a song. Upon entering a small studio nestled close to the Hollywood sign, you are invited to play. Not necessarily play an instrument, but just play. Explore the studio, pick up a book and ruffle through the pages (that’s a noise); make a funny sound (that’s a noise too); or grab a wooden mallet and pound away at a drum set (that’s definitely a noise). There’s no musical talent required—just a desire to explore and create.
To facilitate the experience, Heringer and Williams ask three simple questions before you arrive: one dealing with your relationship to music, another on how you’re feeling, and a final one on your inspirations. While these answers may change between your submission and your studio date, they are only stepping stones to help your song take form. After all, this song is a part of you; it’s your story to tell.
For those who lack any musical talent (like me), don’t worry about the cohesiveness of the noises and sounds you make; just have fun with it. Heringer is a musical genius: if you can’t play a given instrument, he knows how to play everything from guitar to piano to violin; if you can’t decide on the next steps, he’ll suggest an instrument to play with; and once you accumulate your sounds, he’ll be happy to help weave the sounds into a cohesive quilt of melody and rhythm.
It’s this element that offers infinite repeatability to this experience. Reminiscent of choose-your-own-adventure novels or branching immersive experiences, each choice you make leads you down a different path of vibration and voice. From the first step of selecting your time signature, you are locking yourself into a given path. But there are infinite choices to make; come back, and explore another instrument, another rhythm, another aspect of yourself.
There is also an element of magic in The Guest and The Host: Make Music. I would assume that producing a song is a complex, intricate process—but with Williams working diligently behind the scenes, Heringer makes this process seem simple, easy to understand, and brimming with magic. With an electronic board in front of him lit by various colors, the sounds you create are recorded and layered with only the touch of a button. These can be transformed easily and integrated together in real-time, so you have the instant gratification of hearing back the layers of your hard work as you progress. This aspect had me smiling, and even clapping, on numerous occasions as a new layer built up my song, solidifying my thoughts into a final product that I was truly proud of.
The Guest and The Host: Make Music is the essence of immersive theater, stripped of its fiction and grounded in reality. It’s a one-on-one, ninety-minute experience in which you explore yourself, play with a new friend, and walk out having created something beautiful. It’s truly one of the most memorable experiences I have ever done. For those looking for a great date night, a perfect introductory event for an immersive newcomer, or something that parents and kids alike can enjoy, this is the experience I would recommend. Join the host, be the guest, and make music, together.
Also, check out my song, Ghost Story, in the video below!