A Massive-Scale Allegory for Silicon Valley
A 100+ actor, 14-acre journey through an allegory for Silicon Valley. A sprawling, fictional city (History Park in San Jose) was divided up in three zones: a 1907 World’s Fair, a city block out of the Roaring 20’s, and a depression-era camp. The story was a multi-generational tale about what would happen if someone at the turn of the 21st century had developed the means to save people from death and radically expand the human lifespan -- for anyone who could afford it. Matthew Briar and the Age of Resurrection chronicled the rise and fall of this technology, asking what we owe each other in a world where life is infinite -- and a world where life is limited and precious.
A History-Making Collaboration
Created with San Jose Taiko and in collaboration with scholars and survivors of the Japanese-American internment camps, Swingposium is an immersive experience based on the true story of the swing dance events that blossomed in the Japanese-American internments of World War II. This unique experience was written based on interviews with survivor and musicians from the camps, and combines a live big band, taiko drumming, swing dancers, and actors to create an experience with an enormous, all-Asian-American cast where guests dance the night away. Video of Swingposium went viral and was seen by over 2 million users on Facebook. In one 2018 presentation, Swingposium was introduced by San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and closed out by survivor, Clinton cabinet secretary, and San Jose Airport namesake Norman Mineta. Swingposium is now going on tour, thanks to a generous grant, visiting rural California cities and Japan.
Plunge into the Underworld
Guests entered The Infernal Motel by swiping a card on an unmarked door, walking down a long hallway to a fireplace with a slide in it, and plunging down into purgatory. A sequel to the Divine Comedy, The Infernal Motel asked the question: after surviving the trauma of Hell and coming face to face with the divine, what happens next? In this allegory for post-traumatic stress, Dante does not know how to live with himself after the events of The Divine Comedy, and returns to the underworld to experience it all again, where he becomes trapped by his memories and mythologies, until the guests release him, helping him to let go by letting go themselves. The Infernal Motel sold out its entire 7-month run.
The Hit Epic Immersive Experience
Originally created for a team-building group at Facebook, Wonderland blossomed into a long-running sell-out hit! Through Alice's fireplace is the entrance to a secret world of magic, wonder, and danger -- full of new friends and strange enemies. Three guests at a time plunge down the rabbit hole for the trip of a lifetime. In Wonderland, guests slide down into a magical universe, where they encounter the Cheshire Cat, play with the Tweedles, have tea with the Mad Hatter, evade the Red Queen, and try to escape with their heads!
A Collaboration with Alice & Smith
For 2019’s GDC, Paradox Interactive and Alice & Smith approached Epic to perform in the immersive finale to their long-running Alternate Reality Game, ‘Tender Beta’, which would launch Paradox’s newest game, ‘Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines II.’ Epic’s actors manned a Launch Party for a fictional dating app, Tender, featuring everything from luxuries like an Oxygen Bar and ASMR Station to less-savory concepts like an bloody interrogation room. At the end of the evening, all of Epic’s actors were revealed to have been vampires. Not only did the live event feature 400+ leaders and influencers from the gaming industry, the finale and reveal was also live-streamed, with an average of 16,000 viewers watching worldwide via Twitch. Several actors also wore GoPros to capture their journeys live.
A Team-Building Journey of Climate Futurism
Designed as an immersive team-building event and interactive simulation for a climate futurist summit, London 2132 brought guests into the London Underground (in the form of San Francisco’s Whitechapel) for a convening of the London City State’s Senate in the year 2132. The guests, acting as delegates and representatives, had to navigate new and pressing challenges from climate transformation to its associated geopolitical competitions and the aesthetics of robots and artificial intelligence, all while representing the unique needs of their districts and what they owed to each other.
Winter Rituals Through the Ages
Epic teamed up with Whitechapel to create an immersive dining experience for the winter holidays. Guests in masques were welcomed into a secret society, full of elaborate rituals, personal confessions, delicious food, energetic music, drinking games, call-and-response songs, wassailing, moments of reverence, drag, and more. Guests were led through a dozen food-and-drink courses, with each corresponding to a winter ritual formative to our modern understanding of the holidays. Guests competed in feats of strengths while feeding each other grapes for Saturnalia. For wassailing, they downed apple cider and went singing through the streets of San Francisco. For Christmas, they participated in a gorgeous, candlelit drag mass. There was even a smoke-filled immersive reenactment of A Christmas Carol. From pagan rituals to the rampant partying of the Feast of Fools, the entire evening was a highly-choreographed, edgy race through history filled with interactive food and drink pairing.
A Dark Origin Story for Neverland
The Changeling was a dark and gritty origin story for Peter Pan and Captain James Hook, borrowing from some of the darker themes of J.M. Barrie’s writing. The Changeling's secets included how Hook came to be on the island and explanations for Hook’s mysterious history with Blackbeard.
A Google Leadership Commission
In this large-scale, original commission from Google at the colossal Mountain Winery in Silicon Valley, Epic adapted complex theories of adult development and leadership into an immersive experience, in which guests entered a fictional world to investigate their own relationship to different forms of mind and viscerally experienced (a) a progression through advancing leadership approaches and (b) navigating challenges and decision points at each stage of development.
A Wonderland Sequel
Carnival of Memories was a sequel to Epic Immersive’s Wonderland, playing in repertory with Wonderland and The Changeling, in which a now-pregnant Alice discovers her mother’s secret backstory in Wonderland, rethinks her relationship with her now-deceased mother, and contemplates what values to pass on to her daughter -- all while navigating a Wonderland now plagued by trauma.
A Boardgame and VR Experience about Life in the Foster System
For a commission from Child Advocates of Silicon Valley, Epic created a choose-your-own-adventure 360 film and board game all about life in the foster care system, where guests first experienced the life of a foster care child by seeing their world and making their choices with their own eyes, then created their own story via the board game, in which they built characters and experienced how the deck could become stacked against them (and where their best would often not be good enough) and how quickly the ground underneath their feet could shift.
Alice in Wonderland in China
An adaptation of Epic’s Wonderland for Chinese audiences and immersive industry luminaries alike, Dreaming with Alice was a 20-minute, bilingual, immersive Alice in Wonderland created in collaboration with Beijing Opera actors in which an American girl, transplanted to her parents’ native China, came to better understand the duality of her worlds by dreaming a journey that mashed-up her own with the story of Alice in Wonderland.
48 Hours in Paris
In November 2018, Epic Immersive, Paris’ Madame Lupin, and Paris' Le Secret teamed up to create the Paris Immersive Creation Challenge, a 48-hour hackathon to create a new immersive work. Expecting to pull largely from our own teams and networks, we nonetheless put out a call for artists to join us in Paris -- about three weeks ahead of the event. We were flooded with suggestions, and accepted a team of 40 leading artists from all over the world. Immersive theatre directors, talented performers, escape room designers, and writers from Berlin, London, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Paris teamed up to design and then perform a new experience based on the canon of the Brothers Grimm.
48 Hours in New York City
Epic Immersive and New York's spectacular and secretive Wildrence teamed up for the New York Immersive Challenge. An international assortment of immersive all-stars joined us for a weekend in New York, as we lead the team in the creation of a fully-original production, starting at zero and building on the squad's ideas and skills to adventure through the story of a a doctor who had invented a means to keep his son alive through dreams. Guests experienced both the doctor and son's story of letting go and their own dreams, while also navigating secret passageways and immersive environments.
A Residency Program for Underrepresented Artists
Beginning in 2019, Epic turned one of its immersive environments into an incubator and residency program, giving free space to immersive artists from underrepresented backgrounds. In 2019, Epic supported over 30 residency projects, ranging from immersive experiences in all-black-and-white to experiential projects with bellydance and butoh to Japanese tea ceremonies to visiting projects from Amsterdam and Los Angeles.
Epic Immersive looks forward to reinvisioning the Underland initiative once live events resume.