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Denver emerging as national nerve center for immersive arts | arts news | Arts & Entertainment

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While the eyes of the film world are fixed on Denver over the next 10 days, another significant creative meet-up is happening this weekend called the Denver Immersive Gathering.

The gathering, running Friday through Sunday, is a party, not a convention, said organizer David Thomas, with activities spread from the Denver Performing Arts Complex to Meow Wolf to the Heritage Lakewood Belmar Park to the Mercury Cafe, to the Sports Castle at 10th and Broadway.

‘A Bridgerton Experience’ on its way to Denver

And if you are wondering, “Why Denver?” Thomas says, you are not alone. In fact, the unofficial (and fully rhetorical) theme of the weekend, he says, is this: “What the hell is going on in Denver, and why is it generating so much attention on the national immersive map?”

But Denver has been emerging for years as a leading center for what is called “immersive” theater – which is essentially any live storytelling experience that does not take place in a traditional theater space. The Denver Center’s ongoing staging of David Byrne’s “Theatre of the Mind” has been garnering media attention from all over the world. In a way, the weirdness that the Meow Wolf collective are conjuring every day by Mile High Stadium could be called immersive art. From a more commercial perspective, Netflix also happens to be opening “A Bridgerton Experience” this weekend in RiNo. We’re told there will even be some immersive component when Casa Bonita reopens as well.

But immersive experiences are hardly new to the local scene. Theater groups like the DCPA’s Off-Center, The Catamounts, Control Group Productions and Theater Artibus have not only built up a curious and sophisticated immersive audience base that is hungry for walks on the wilder storytelling side (Control Group recently performed in an old slaughterhouse) , they also have developed a significant pool of performers who are uniquely qualified to pull off this kind of work.

Denver, in fact, “is blowing up as a site for interesting immersive work,” said Thomas. “And because the Denver creative community is evolving a perfect incubator for this emerging form.”