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Sleep No More Spoiler Discussion
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
Massive spoilers will be in the comments. I'll be gradually adding to this over the next while, as I get spare moments to write. Hopefully, other folks who've been will also comment!
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The white masks for the audience members was a brilliant and powerful mechanic. On a simple, practical level, it made it clear who was audience, who actors. On a primal level, by anonymizing the audience members, it freed us to do things we wouldn't normally do, and empowered our voyeurism.

On a fictional level, it turned us into ghosts, haunting the castle (and the actors). I've never been a ghost before, and it was a very strange sensation! Like ghosts, we desperately wanted to interact with the world of the 'living', but were never quite able to communicate.

At first, it seemed that none of the characters could see us -- but then sometimes they did. Characters who were dead could see us, and sometimes those who were mad (almost everyone spent some time in at least one of those states). The witches could always see us, but didn't think we were important (though they sometimes toyed with us). The bartender could see us, but seemed somewhat annoyed -- I guess he doesn't get a lot of business in his bar, but much of what he does get is dead people.

On rare occurrences, an actor would actually remove an audience member's mask...

So you did find the witches this time, eh?

Second time around, I saw Macbeth kill Banquo in the dingy bar. Banquo eventually came out from behind the bar, bloody. He and the bartender shared a drink, which they both spit on the floor. Then Banquo stumbled out, with me (and many others) following.

I was really close to him. As we went up the stairs, he actually started leaning on me for support. He turned to look directly at me, with an expression that conveyed that what he was about to say was the most important thing in his life (or afterlife). And he whispered, as if it was taking all his strength, so only I could hear.

You. Find. Macbeth.
You find Macbeth. And you. Kill. Macbeth.


After we got up the stairs, we went down the hall, and into a small room with an odd little staircase in it. He went up the stairs, but the audience were prevented from following by a Black Mask. He stared at us over the balcony, then pointed urgently to a door across the room, and hissed, in a loud stage whisper, "Go. Go! GO!"

We went. And found ourselves in the main hall, in the midst of the banquet scene, with Banquo's Ghost just about to make his entrance.

I followed the bartender and ended up in the hotel lobby.

Oh, and I went and read the sequence about the odd theater company in Diamond Age. It's not actually like the experience in the book, but the *spirit* of it is very similar.

Just so. Technology and implementation details almost polar opposites. Yet very similar high-level goals and ultimate effects on the 'audience'.

When are you making your third trip to SNM?

Thursday, December 10th

The Second Mrs. DeWinter

This visit, I spent a lot of time shadowing a young blonde woman who turned out to be The Second Mrs. DeWinter through almost her entire story cycle. Happily, I had seen "Rebecca" in the interim, so I had a bit more clue as to what was going on with her. In this show, she is also Duncan's wife, so I suspected who she was when I saw her dancing with him. Here's some of what she did, though not necessarily in order, and certainly incomplete:

In the hotel lobby, the Porter was very mean to her. She did sign the register: "Mr. and Mrs. DeWinter, Manderley, Cornwall", which clinched her identity. A few minutes later, Mrs. Danvers came in, and they did the 'Mrs DeW drops the glove and both of them reach to pick it up' bit from the film. Curiously, this was almost their only interaction; Mrs. D spends most of her time tormenting Lady MacDuff...

Mrs. DeW sits on the sofa. She starts pouring herself some tea, with scared glances over atthe looming, creepy Porter. She pours the milk, then the sugar. The Porter wanders off. She lifts the teacup -- revealing a key! She quickly snatches the key and puts it in her purse.

Returning to her room, she uses the key to unlock a formerly locked door. This is clearly rebecca's room, and we get a few more movie allusions, as she reacts to the various contents with "R" monograms, and even puts on one of R's pretty dresses.

Suddenly, a knocking at the door! Mrs. DeW frantically tries to put everything back the way it was, guilty at being discovered here. As she does, the knocking gets louder, rising to a pounding. At last, she opens the door, and lets in a young man (not sure who), who is incredibly distraught. There's some strange business involving a watch. The man drops it, and Mrs. DeW bends to pick it up, but he stops her with great urgency, as if the watch was dangerous, poisonous. He uses a handkerchief to pick it up, and carefully secretes it inside an envelope, which he then hands to her. She puts it in her purse. He leaves.

Mrs. DeW sits at her desk. She tears off a small strip of paper, and writes upon it: "Set me as a seal upon your heart, for love is stronger than death," She folds the paper up into a tiny square, then sticks a pin through it. She pins it to an apple, then puts four more pins in a square around it. She winds a piece of red thread about the pins, sealing the note in.

She then takes out a large Holy Bible and kneels on the floor with it (and a candle, and The Key). Soon, she notices one of the ghosts(guests) and reaches out to them. She takes them into Rebecca's room for some one on one time. (She does one-on-one's at least four times during the cycle. I got to be in one, but that was a complex enough event to deserve it's own post, later.)

Later, she undoes the string on the apple. She opens a trunk, which is lit on the inside, and full of water. She slowly tears the note into small pieces, dropping them into the trunk, and stirring them with her fingers. Then she reaches into the water and retrieves a playing card, clearly of some significance. She runs down to the basement. There, a Witch takes the card from her.

She wanders into a Detective's Office. He is not there, but she finds a folded photo of her husband, Duncan. She starts searching the office, finding nothing but strange bird parephenalia: feathers, eggs, essays and books about birds. During this, the detective sneaks quietly in. After observing her for a while, he confronts her. They talk(?), and eventually end up in a passionate clinch. As they kiss, the desk fans speed up, blowing feathers everywhere.

At some point, someone confronts her in the Chapel about the Watch, but I was just cacthing up after a run, and didn't get a clear view...

Re: The Second Mrs. DeWinter

I was outside the door when the pounding started. The man (who I believe was Banquo, but I have trouble telling the men apart) had been on the landing. The stewards had ushered us behind the double doors or stopped people on the landings above and below this one.

Banquo (let's just say it was) performed an incredible, athletic, acrobatic "dance" with a chair and the staircase. He was clearly in turmoil. After his performance (a highlight of my evening), he went to the door and began pounding on it.

I realized then that I had been in this scene already, but from inside the room.

All Alone in Rebecca's Room

Sometimes, an actor will see a ghost/guest and reach out to them. Often it takes the audience member a while to figure out that the fourth wall (such as it is) is being breached, and that they should take the offered hand. It's quite amusing to watch. By this time, however, I knew the drill, and was actively seeking it out.

Mrs. DeWinter took me to Rebecca's door, unlocked it, and drew me in, returning to lock the door, keeping everyone else out. With the door closed, the room is almost silent. She then went over to sit on the sofa, gesturing to me to sit on a small footstool next to her. She reached forward gently, tentatively, and took off my mask. After being so used to having it on, it's a moment of shocking intimacy.

She has an extremely unusual expression. Her lips and cheeks are spread in a wide, welcoming smile -- but her eyes are despearately trying to hold back tears. She reaches her right hand around to rest on the back of my neck. I take her left hand between both of mine. She begins to speak, in a very quiet voice, with a breath-long pause between phrases.

(Again, my memory is woefully unreliable and incomplete.)

Once upon a time

there was a little girl

with no mother or father.

One day she woke up

and everyone was dead

the world was over

so she cried.


Somewhere around here, I hear "NOOOOOO!!!" and the clanging of the alarm bell, muffled through the thick walls. Duncan's body has been discovered. It only occurs to me later that she began telling me this story at the very moment her husband was being murdered.

The little girl tried to go to Heaven

and rose up into the sky.

But when she got to the moon

it was just rotted wood.

And when she got to the sun

(Alexx memory failure)

And when she got to the stars

they were only gnats

which a shrike had impaled on the black spikes of a thorn bush


About now, I suddenly realized that she and I were at kissing range. She had been moving us closer at an imperceptibly slow rate all along. I was momentarily flustered and had no idea what to do. Her smile had vanished somewhere along the way, and she looked entirely miserable. Then her voice got even *quieter*, and I realized that she was going to shortly end up whispering in my ear.

So she went back to the Earth

But it was just an overturned bowl.

And she was all alone

because everyone was dead.

And she cried

because she was all alone.

aaaaaalllll

*gasp*

aaaaallllooooonnnne


By now, her hands were gripping my hand and neck with almost painful tightness, and her head was entirely alongside mine. I think she kissed me, but it's hard to tell.

She sat back, trying to compose herself. I wanted to help her, to tell her that she wasn't alone -- but it would have been a lie. I couldn't speak. I couldn't change her situation. I was only a ghost. She could unburden herself to me, but that was the most I could do for her. I stroked her hand in what I hoped was a reassuring manner. She gently handed my mask back, and I put it on. She led me back out.

Re: All Alone in Rebecca's Room

when she got to the sun it was a rotted sunflower, at least as told to me :)

The Red Witch, part 1

After having seen (most of) The Second Mrs. DeWinter's story, I ventured into the basement in search of a witch. The first one I found was the one I mentally refer to as The Red Witch, on account of her beautiful red dress with the long train.

I later found out that she was actually Hecate. The other witches were The Short Witch, The Bald Witch (who sometimes deceptively wears a wig), and The Male Witch. They are often in groups, but rarely all together at once.

Hecate's Parlor has numerous comfy sofas, including a circular one in the center of the room. The ceiling is covered with interlocked dangling umbrellas. (Sometimes Hecate yanks on their handles, summoning storms.) Her desk has many small containers of mystic essences, and a flat surface upon which she chalks arcane sigils. Upon the desk is a book about Goetic Magic; the spine is illegible and the title page has been ripped out. A bookcase holds many odd knicknacks, including a dead cat.

I had lots of time to observe these details. Hecate has a habit of bringing ghosts into her locked herbal storage room for one-on-ones. As I was determined to follow her (and desirous of getting a one-on-one with her!), I had quite a lot of time in that room, with no actors. My strategy for this circumstance evolved over the course of the evening. At first, I would just sit. Not a bad plan, given how much time one spends on one's feet. But I noticed that wandering audience members would be puzzled by my (non-)behavior, and would start watching *me*! As I wanted to improve my odds of being chosen, I didn't want lots of others hanging around. So I then started poking at the decor, as if I, too, had just wandered in, and would probably soon wander out again.

I never did make it into ther herbarium, but The Red Witch *did* take note of me... But I am nearly home, so that story will have to wait.

Re: The Red Witch, part 1

i got taken in for a 1:1 with hecate last night, and it ws AMAZING. will give detailslater.

I think Hecate figured out I wanted to get into her herbarium and deliberately didn't choose me out of perversity. Perhaps I over-read the mischievous glint in her eyes. Still I perservered. Eventually she gestured me over to her working-desk. She took two small crytals from a balance and folded my hand tightly around them.

Well I certainly wasn't going to leave *now*! I wanted to see what else happened with her. Macbeth stopped by for a quick clean-up. He was all bloody, and washed himself at a basin on the floor near her desk. Then he put on a clean shirt from her trunk and left. They kissed at some point.

Hecate often visited the neighboring lounge/bar. Sometimes to do a scene with other actors, sometimes to grab a ghost for a one-on-one. Once she shared a drink with Duncan.

At one point, she watched a musical number. "Is That All There Is" played overhead, while The Short Witch danced and The Male witch lip-synched from the stage. (Perhaps a nod to "After Hours", another story about a man with trouble sleeping, moving through a surrealistic space.)

One of the high points of this room is the second Macbeth-consults-the-Witches scene. I've now seen it twice, from different angles. Some of the witches gather up ghosts beforehand, so maybe 100 people see it. Hecate walks in and lets out a loud, wicked laugh. She then sits to watch the rest of the scene, something she does quite often.

Colored lights play across the floor. Deep bass music, with an insistent, rave-like rhythym. The Witches shove some audience members back to make room -- perhaps not far enough; more than once in the ensuing madness I got hit by flailing witch-arms, or splashed with sweat. Dancing, grunting, gyrating...

The two female Witches tear at the clothes of The Male Witch. Soon he is down to his skivvies. He hurls himself into the darkness behind the bar, followed by The Short Witch. The Bald Witch dances. The music grows even more frenetic. The light strobes -- only flashes now visible.

A demon comes from behind the bar, male, completely naked, goat-headed. Macbeth stumbles in. The Short Witch has bared one breast, The Bald Witch, both. The Witches make out with each other; Macbeth makes out with the demon. The Witches pour blood all down the demon's front, then lick some off. A baptismal font is produced, in it a baby completely covered in blood, which the demon brandishes at Macbeth, then hands to the Witches, who parody breastfeeding it. They all taunt Macbeth with a small model tree. Macbeth flees. The demon and The Bald Witch vanish somehow. Hecate laughs aloud again: the scene is over.

There are still many people in the room. The Short Witch (re-clothed) does an energetic dance to "Moonlight Becomes You". I had not previously realized how much that song was about nakedness.

The Short Witch tries to grab an audience member (to dance with?), but Hecate stops her. The two of them interact inscrutably for a bit. Then Hecate fetches someone from the audience. (A woman, both times I saw it, though perhaps a coincidence.) Hecate leads the woman to stand near the font with the bloody baby. Hecate manipulates her hands so they are flat, palms upward. Hecate removes her right shoulder-length glove, and looks around for someone to hold it for her; this most recent time, I gallantly stepped forward and took it. Hecate then lowered her right hand into the font, to cover it with baby's blood, painted the palm of the woman's right hand with the blood, caressed the woman's left cheek, also with blood, then left.

The first time I saw this scene, the woman stood there for some time, holding her bloody hand out, an attitude of horrified bafflement visible even through the mask. The second time, I was busy returning Hecate's glove. She took it, smiled at me, lunged in to quickly but firmly kiss me on the cheek, then returned to her parlor.

After washing her hand and putting her glove back on, she did a bit more spell-work at her desk. Then, on to view the Final Banquet. I don't think I saw her full cycle...

Lis and I saw it last night.

I didn't even try to follow the plot. I didn't even try to figure out who characters were. I just wandered through the school, peeked in every door, looked through everything.

For most of the night, I actually tried to avoid crowds, meaning that I was mostly deliberately avoiding the plot.

I got pulled into two individual scenes. One was with the pregnant woman, who I believe was Lady MacDuff. Unless she was the Young Mrs DeWinter? One was with . . . some tall guy, who was crying.

The pregnant woman pulled me into the little room off of her primary room, and locked the doors. She told me that it had been a long nine months and that she missed me. It was a very intimate scene; she stroked my cheek. She pulled out a Bible, opened it, put our hands on it. She tore a page out, and folded it into an origami cup, put the cup into my hands, and poured salt into it. She then realized I wasn't MacDuff, got very upset, shoved my mask back on, and threw me out.

Achievement Unlocked: Bible Verse of Salt.

The other one was with a tall, thin man, bearded, who was crying. He grabbed me, hugged me, and cried into my shoulder. He pulled me into a room next to one of the staircases, and locked the door behind. He hugged me, crying, again, took my mask off, and then shone a MagLite into my face, and led me further into the room.

The MagLite went off, leaving me in darkness. Then a spotlight went on right next to my feet revealing a dead fawn with broken legs. The man showed it to me, crying, and then put a small bird pendant on a red string around my neck. He then put my mask back on me, and took me back outside.

Achievement Unlocked: Bird Pendant

I spent most of the evening wandering around. I saw some scenes -- I saw the banquet scene three times, including the last one which Ends Differently. I saw a taxidermist in the room with the taxidermied birds, who took a cloth out of a drawer, opened it, and fondled the three locks of hair within. I saw the desk clerk run into a chapel and spit on a cross (there was a lot more to that scene, too, of course). I saw a young man take an audience member, sit him at a table, deal him cards, and them play a card game, of which the rules were unclear. I saw that three times.

The existing art form that this reminded me most of? LARPs. Except it no more like a LARP than it is like a ballet, or a play, or a first-person zombie shooter, or a musical, or a movie, or a haunted house, or a museum. It's a little bit like all of those, but not very much.

If it wasn't sold out for the rest of the run, I could happily see it a half-dozen more times.

Lis was bored. She's verbal, and needs linear plots. There were things she liked, but, on the whole, it was very much more my sort of thing than hers.

It felt like there were three kinds of ghosts haunting the place. There were some ghosts who were locked into the trauma of their experiences, repeating and replaying them over and over again -- the actors. There were some ghosts who were free-willed, able to move about the area as we wished, but unable to interact with the world except in limited ways -- unless the trapped ghosts, in their OWN trauma, drew us in -- us, the white-masked audience.

And the third form of ghost was a guide, controlling the flow, silently running everything -- the black-masked ushers.

At some point, I'd like to see an actual map of the whole place, with annotations and everything pointed out, and a scene-by-scene breakdown of what happens where and how everything interacts.

But I wouldn't want such a thing to exist until after the run, until after the whole set is taken down. I don't want an explanation of the thing to exist until after the thing itself doesn't anymore.

Also -- Lis said to mention: after she realized that she was getting bored because she needed more linearity, she figured that following a single character's plotline would be more linear for her, so she followed Mrs Danvers for the rest of the evening, and that worked much better for her. She got to see ALL sorts of interesting bits that way.

Hi, sorry to intrude here but I was pointed in your direction by someone on the b0st0n LJ community. I started up a sleepnomore wiki where I'm trying to compile people's experience with the show as well as catalog all the rooms and symbols we were bombarded with. The page is here:

http://sleepnomore.wikidot.com/

Looks like you have had some great experiences and insights into the show. Any chance you'd like to share them on the wiki? If that's too much work, is there any chance you'd let me copy/paste things you've written there?

Thanks!

I am likely to not have much time to contribute personally. But I grant permission to copy what I've written here, with attribution.

I don't know if you still want people to post here or care- but I just saw this Tuesday and since it's not already here I thought I'd mention what happens to the Male Witch after the rave.

NY Production- Tuesday Nov. 29th

The male witch removes the goat's head, still covered in blood and buck-ass-naked, and flees the room past where Hecate is sitting. I was the only one following him at this point ( the rave is just winding down as he goes so he manages to go mostly unnoticed). I'd been following him since the ball scene (he danced with me, I felt loyal after that) so I made sure to follow him out. At this point I figured he would disappear behind a locked door to whatever backstage existed to wash up and get dressed. Not the case at all.

He staggers though a hallway to a stylized bathroom, where a shower is already running. A change of clothes is waiting there. He collapses into the shower, strung out and miserable, scrubbing blood off of himself. He's gone from being a terrifying demon-god-thing to a supremely vulnerable, pitiful young man in moments. I stand there, watching him shower for briefly before averting my eyes to look at the ceiling- the moment is staggeringly intimate, more invasion of privacy then I can handle even with the mask on. When I saw Lady M strip down in the 'Out, out damn spot' scene there were about thirty other ghosts- this time it's just me and him and I feel strange.

The shower stops, he collapses out of it onto the tile floor, totally wasted, staring at me for help. He points to a towel. I hand it to him and he stands and manages to start to dry himself. He points to his white dress shirt, I get that for him too and hold it up for him to slip his arms into and help him work it onto his shoulders. He falls again, still naked except for the unbuttoned shirt and lays against the wall. He points to his pants, I pull them off the hanger, fuss with them for a bit trying to figure out which way is up and how to work around all the suspendery 1940's stuff attached while he looks as bemused as he can, under the circumstances. I pull them onto his outstretched legs as he fumbles with the laces of his shoes. Mostly dressed, he reached out both hands to me to pull him up. I go to pull away once he's standing again but he holds onto me and begins to lead me out of the corridor and down the stairs. Now we begin to pass people again who start to follow in our wake. He keeps stumbling on the stairs, still drunk or high on witch rave orgy power, and I keep tightening my hand like he's really falling and I have to keep him steady. He seems to like that reaction and stumbles more, ignoring everyone following except for me.

We reach the banquet room for the finale, he stands with me- takes my other hand and stares into my face until I look him in the eye. He looks grateful, showing the closest thing I've seen to affection from him or any of the cast since the thing started and then pulls away, looking sorry and resigned that everything is reaching it's end and there's nothing to be done about it.

And that's where the Male Witch goes after the rave. It's not supposed to be a one on one- anyone can follow. It was totally extraordinary.

Thank you so much for writing this!

I'm hoping the show runs long enough that my finances can allow me to go to NY to see it again.

ballroom

(Anonymous)
Can someone give me an analysis of the party that Lady Macbeth throws for Duncan???
Is Lady Macduff being cheated on?
Who are the two men that dance with each other?

I've only been to SNM once, and since I went with a completely blank slate, I wasn't able to catch enough action to piece together the story.
But I keep thinking about it, and this ballroom scene was one of the only "bigger scenes" that I caught, so I would like to know more about it...


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