Immersive means the audience are present in the world of play.
Interactive means that their actions have consequence.
The interactive model of the work carries dramaturgical meaning. No model is better or worse than another per se; certainly not true that the more ‘freedom’ the audience has, the better. A model is best only as it is the best to reflect meaning, and – especially – best to enable play and take care of its playing audience.
When building a piece of play, don’t start with a story or a game – start with the world of the piece and mapping the systems in play, including the interactions (verbs) between people, places and things (nouns).
When we watch a performance of a play, we make belief (aka suspend disbelief) entirely in response to the conviction with which the performers play, and the care with which the play is made – if you play a penguin, I make believe you are a penguin if you play with conviction, while never forgetting you are not really a penguin.
When we make play, the challenge can be that a playing audience are the performers for each other and themselves – which mean we need to give them actions which help them make believe they are in this role, in this world. These make belief actions are best if they are fun, easy to do however you choose to play, and have no direct interactive consequence on the experience.
Always remember what is real, that is where you and the audience are starting from. We described Small Town as really, a roomful of mostly strangers playing as if they are a community, and the impact was partly how their own relationships changed through play. Safety and care sit with the real; only when they are supported is meaningful play possible.
There are different kinds of narrative experience for audiences, they are all change:
• Changes in (understanding of) the relationships between people, often through action.
• Changes in (understanding of) the systems in play in the world, often through events.