Immersive Theatre with Tim Grieveson
My name is Tim Grieveson and I’m an actor and director. I specialise in immersive theatre and my passion is creating shows where an audience has a chance to become a part of what’s going on and become integral to moving the show forward, and also hopefully even become the hero of the story themselves. This is somewhat challenging with adult audiences and you need to set limits for the little blighters, but the real wonderful thing with this is when you apply it to working with young people.
Secret Cinema in London really gave me my first experience of just how amazing a show can make you feel when you’re thrown right in and are a part of it. I was lucky enough to go on and work with them and they’ve been really important in shaping my outlook on immersive theatre.
When I first came to Sheffield in 2016 I played Gatsby in The Great Gatsby with Theatre Deli. This was my first experience of bringing something to life without a huge cast and that was incredibly influential and helped develop how I looked at these shows, which I really thank Alex Flanagan-Wright for.
Grimm & Co are an amazing company that I share an ethos with and they have allowed me to bring this form of theatre to the young people they work with. I have so much admiration for what they do and was honoured to become a part of that.
One of the biggest challenges with this form is that you really don’t know how it’s going to work until you have a real audience in, right down to the very mechanics of the show. The piece will be living, moving and breathing and you have to incorporate how the logistics and safety of something like that are going to impact the reality of the show and the audiences suspension of disbelief. Once again though, it’s a lot easier with young people!
A lot of this has really happened by accident for me. I looked into acting as a way to become a better director and ended up falling in love with immersive theatre and felt especially rewarded by working with young people. I don’t have any relevant performance qualifications myself so can only advise to say yes to everything you can, at the start at least, and learn your craft in whatever way possible.
In terms of filmmaking it’s well documented how accessible equipment is now so experiment with writing, acting and filming yourself. It’s OK to make mistakes or make something truly terrible, just learn from it. There is always a production going on that needs an extra pair of hands so lookout for anyone making a film locally. I’ll never stop wanting to make a film with some friends and in many ways it’s a newer version of playing some really bad guitar in your mates garage so just keeping playing til you get better. It’s worth noting that helping out to learn some stuff is great but be really wary of your time and good nature being taken advantage of as unfortunately it does happen.