The Speakeasy Society is an LA based immersive entertainment company creating intimate and epic experiences in unexpected places.
We create 360-degree worlds providing escape through total engagement - crafting a shared experience where audience interaction becomes a vital aspect of the performance.
The Speakeasy Society, named Best Emerging Immersive Theater Company of 2015 by the LAWeekly, was officially formed in a women’s restroom at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in 2012. Longtime collaborators Julianne Just and Genevieve Gearhart, along with newcomer Matthew Bamberg-Johnson, created “The Weird Sisters,” a witch-centric adaptation of Macbeth that gave audience members a very up close and personal experience of the classic narrative. As the experiences have grown so has the company, Associate Artistic Director Chris Porter joined the team in 2015 followed by Producing Director John Henningsen, and their newest member, Michael Bates.
Since then, each production has explored a new audience/performer relationship. Many times the company will find a story that is intriguing and then go on the hunt for the perfect environment. Other times the company will find an exciting location and let a story develop from the space itself.
Productions have included a dinner party in a private residence (Kitchen/Sugar/Bullet/Blank), a “sandbox style” interactive adaptation in a hidden pub at a local brewery (Ebenezer: An Immersive Christmas Carol), and a private conversation created for an audience of one at a local restaurant (The Stronger). In 2014 the company embarked on a multi-year journey creating “The Johnny Cycle”--a three part production loosely based on Dalton Trumbo’s novel “Johnny got his Gun”. Part I: The Quick and the Dead ran at the American Legion in Pasadena and was listed by LA Weekly as one of “2015’s Five Times LA Theater Felt Bold”.
Part II: The Shell continued Johnny’s journey in July and August of 2016 engulfed in the Gothic architecture of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Glendale, again earning a spot on LA Weekly’s “LA’s Best Theater from 2016.” Part III: The Living concluded the cycle in May of 2017 at the stunning Mountain View Mausoleum in Altadena to rave reviews.
A radical shift in form, The Kansas Collection is a serialized immersive narrative that explores the intersection between video games and live performance. Chapter One: The Key was launched at IndieCade 2016, an independent game festival, and allows participants to determine the story they experience through the choices they make. This production is set in a traveling circus tent that changes locations each time it is performed.
Early next year, The Speakeasy Society will be debuting Wild Party: A Jazz Age Immersive Performance in partnership with The Broad Stage in Santa Monica--a piece currently in development and workshops. In addition, the company has an ongoing collaboration with Two Bit Circus: Engineering Entertainment (twobitcircus.com), a technology based entertainment company, to create an immersive experience utilizing new software that imbues every audience member with a unique character.
While the company and their list of collaborating artists has grown, the goal remains unaltered: they work to change what it means to “go to the theater” in Los Angeles, one performance at a time.
The Speakeasy Society has received institutional support from Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Entertainment. Currently, they are collaborating with Two Bit Circus, a renowned technological entertainment company, to develop an immersive dinner experience utilizing new technology that imbues every audience member with a unique character.