Alex Palmer, Founder of Leeds-based interactive theatre company Riptide tells us all about its upcoming performance, Intermission which runs in the city until 23rd December.
Alex Palmer, Founder and Creative Director of interactive theatre company Riptide developed the Lost Connections series in response to our disconnected modern world, speaking up about us being the loneliest generation ever to live. Though he argues we are more “connected”, studies have shown we are lonelier than ever, and depression is on the rise. When asked ‘How many people can you turn to in a crisis?’ studies show in the UK and US the most common answer is now zero, a number which has been dwindling for the past 20 years.
Intermission is the antidote to our modern loneliness crisis and Riptide makes it clear that the first step to connecting with others is reconnecting with yourself.
Hi Alex! What can audiences expect from Intermission if they’ve never seen interactive theatre before?
Hello! Our audiences are the centre focus of our work, so we don’t put on plays, we create experiences that put you at the centre of them. They definitely do have a story, but we don’t put on Hamlet, for example.
The story of Intermission involves 10 different scenes, which we’re calling treatments, and just to give you a flavour of them, one is a massage, one of them is a kind of Tai Chi movement class, one of them might feel a little bit like a life coaching session, and I won’t spoil the others, but they’re all very different and they’re all one on one. So, it’s a one actor, one audience member – it should feel a little bit like a spa mixed with a theatre show.
You’re not a voyeur in our work, we definitely see you. A Riptide trope is that we make each performance bespoke to our audience members, we know a lot about you before you arrive by using a pre-show questionnaire usually and that’s how we tailor the experience to you in Intermission.
What effect do you hope Intermission will have on people?
The original concept was that this would be the halftime show of your life. What would you do if you could pause your life for 90 minutes? What would you want to happen? Some people would just want to get up and have a nap, some people would like to reflect, some people might choose to write lists, or some people might want to dance and have a party. We’ve taken all those ideas and we put them into a show.
This could be the space that you realise you need to quit your job if you really hate it; it could be the impetus that you need to stop smoking; it could be the reminder that you need to call a family member if you haven’t done for months. That’s the deeper aspect of it.
How does Riptide offer a health and wellness aspect with its work?
I started Riptide with the goal of giving audiences extraordinary experiences. Questioning what does it feel like to become part of an art heist when you take a painting off the wall of an art gallery? That kind of adrenaline rush experience, but for this one the experience is ‘What does it feel like to be the centre of attention for 90 minutes and to feel to feel guided, to feel held, to feel seen, and to feel genuinely cared for?’.
I don’t think those experiences really exist, other than maybe if you do therapy or if you have a close-knit community, friends or religion that has that community aspect. But I think other than that, if you don’t have those things, where else is there that you feel connected?
So, for me Riptide is now becoming much more about giving audiences that feeling of being special and important and the star of the show. I think seeing the impact of that type of work has shifted us to use our skills in building audience experience for a socially conscious purpose and it’s just really lovely.
If you have the skills, why wouldn’t you want to make a genuine impact on how people live and also try and entertain them on the way?
Limited spaces are available for Intermission which runs until 23rd December in Leeds so book your place now: Theriptide.co.uk/intermission