When I got the first Instagram post I was intrigued. By the second or third I was hooked- I needed to know about what it all meant and what happens next. That’s how one of the newest haunt experiences in So Cal started, for at first a select few people. In the beginning you get strangely beautiful posts on Instagram and an invitation to follow, then odd messages to go with the posts, puzzles, videos, then eventually (maybe) you got an invitation to join them. To what, was the mystery, but it was clear it dealt with fear, our fears and the need for us as humans to deal with them. I soon learned that “Fear is What We Learned Here” was an immersive dream through the deepest fears of the human psyche. Hmmmm… still interested but unsure of what to think at first. I wasn’t ready to say (for example) I had a fear of bugs and show up to have myself alone in a room with hundreds of them, that sort of thing. But as I read the information that came in messages slowly but surely, I realized it was about deeper fears and then I was totally dying to experience it. I shared my deepest fears with them, got instructions about the rules of the dream and waited. So excited that the invitation came, but it was truly hard to wait. I knew the when, finally, but not the where until just a day before. I am not going to outline my full experience, that would not be fair to Screenshot Productions to give it all away. Although I’m sure each individual’s experience is a bit different.
First, I would like to share what I learned about the creators (who, by the way, I never met without them wearing a mask.) It is definitely intriguing to know that “Fear is What We Learned Here” is invitation only. That right there makes it different. It’s hard to decipher whether you found them or they found you. It felt like the later. According to the “Fear is What We Learned Here” creators, “We set out to make a cerebral and cinematic examination on the topic of fear, challenging participants to look at the role fear plays in their own lives and providing (in our own way) a pathway for them to overcome it. Our goal in doing so was for people to have a surreal, yet uplifting experience with something to think about/apply to their own lives, rather than one in which they are merely frightened in the moment. To give you a bit more information, we (Screenshot Productions) are a newly formed immersive theater production company with a long-term vision to establish a year-round immersive experience culture here in LA. We have been inspired by the immersive scene in NY and truly hope to bring something similar to the west coast. However, we don’t simply wish to replicate existing models for what constitutes an immersive production, but instead forge ahead with our own take on where we think the industry can go. We don’t want to sound cliche, but we want to continually push what an immersive experience can be and what audience members can get out of it. We always want to have an agenda for the productions we stage, and hope we can tap into universal human emotions in some small way with each piece we create. Essentially, we want our art to have a genuine emotional effect on people and feel that cinematic, music-driven pieces are a fantastic context to do so. As for the near future, with the ‘whatwelearnedhere’ brand we have a viable launching point for several other shows dealing with other universal human emotions, and we look forward to bringing the next one to light in 2016. As for the distant future…well, we’ll share more on that when the time comes.”
So, for my experience. I did a lot of soul searching about how I felt. The most significant thing I can say it it made me think really think about life and death. Before even going I had been asked to share my fears and then also to spend some time thinking about them and how fear might have changed my paths in life. Did it change my life for the better or for the worst? That is a hard thing to contemplate, since we all have regrets and positive feelings about the past. My reflections on the experience lead me to feel like my “dream” took me on a journey that was surreal at times and very focused at others. Different methods were used to disorient me, which worked very well. The few people I came upon were both helpful and unsettling, then at times incredibly ominous. I was taken to a place where I was no longer in control for a short time, they took control of me emotionally and physically. (At that point I have to admit I thought, wow what a great place for a serial killer to get their victims!) But as I was released from that state and pushed to find my way out, I no longer felt trapped and just that it was time to get moving and be done. Using lights, fog, sound, images and a few humans, I was lead through a maze. I felt I connected with death, at one point briefly, and came back; a very interesting and scary feeling. That one moment definitely made me think about my life and my future afterwards. All in all it was a unique experience that I think would be appreciated by most people unless you get really freaked out in closed spaces. I would love to see what they have coming up in the future and suggest that if you want an individual haunt/performance art experience then you will get a lot out of “Fear is What We Learned Here”.
How to connect with Fear is What We Learned Here:
For their Instagram
For their Website