If you’ve spent any time in London over the past couple of summers, chances are that you’ve heard of Secret Cinema. If you haven’t heard yet, words simply won’t do the experience justice, it really does have to be seen, heard and felt to be believed. The company specializes in creating large-scale cultural experiences in abandoned spaces, fusing film, music, theatre and installations. When you go to a Secret Cinema event, you are stepping out of your real life and into an “ultra-immersive world where fiction and reality blur”. It’s an experience not to be missed.
For the uninitiated, the ‘theatre’ offers a variety of experiences, the best known being ‘Secret Cinema Tell No One’ (neither the film nor the venue are known to ticket holders) and ‘Secret Cinema Presents’ (the film however not the venue are known). For both, the ticket holder is assigned a character and so begins the intricate world building, with the opportunity to extend the experience and attend additional events in the build up to the film. The films presented over the years have included box-office blockbusters, cult features and a range of classics, but the ultra-immersive worlds created are always of the highest quality.
Last summer we had the pleasure of attending our very first experience – ‘Secret Cinema Presents The Empire Strikes Back’. From the moment we booked the tickets and were assigned our characters (ticket holders are usually cast as supporting characters, whilst professional actors take the main roles), we were transported into the world of Star Wars – we were cast as Rebel Alliance Pilots which led to a weekend of homemade costumes and a lot of fun on the night.
Just before the event we were directed to a secret London location, and from the moment we arrived we were entered into the world of A New Hope before we took our seats for the showing and re-enactment of The Empire Strikes Back. The evening was punctuated with theatrical appearances from some of the greatest heroes and villains ever committed to film (watch the video below for just a taste); when you weren’t watching the film, there was a huge array of themed food stalls and drinks to choose from which only helped to create a festival atmosphere. The highlight had to be seeing a full-size X-Wing fighter flying overheard and destroying the Death Star at the culmination of the film.
The year before The Empire Strikes Back, the company undertook one of their most ambitious projects to date when they recreated the fictional American town of Hill Valley for ‘Secret Cinema Presents Back to the Future’. We’re still hitting ourselves for missing that one, so don’t miss your chance to get involved when they will be bringing to life their first ever horror film later this month (it will be terrifying), ‘Secret Cinema Presents 28 Days Later’. If running from the undead doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, ‘Secret Cinema Presents Dirty Dancing’ returns in July for a limited run of six dates.
For tickets and more information head to secretcinema.org.