David Byrne will launch his long-in-the-works immersive theater experience, Theater of the Mind, in Denver this summer. The production, which Byrne developed with writer Mala Gaonkar along with Denver Center for the Performing Arts Off-Center, will run from Aug. 31 through Dec. 18 in a 15,000 square foot warehouse called York Street Yards in the city’s Clayton neighborhood.
Theater of the Mind aims to “take audience members through an immersive journey of self-reflection, discovery, and imagination, inspired by and grounded in neuroscience.” Attendees will not so much be audience members as participants in sensory experiments intended to “reveal the inner mysteries of the brain,” according to production materials. The production will accept bring through only 16 attendees at a time.
An announcement for the production comes with the following caveat: “Caution: the brain may wander. Side effects may include a distrust of your own senses, a disorientation of self, and a mild to severely good time. You may not be who you think you are. But we’re all in it together.”
“It is super exciting to premiere this show with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts,” Byrne, who is fresh off a run of his American Utopia Broadway residency, said in a statement. “I hope participants will be as surprised by these experiences, just as I have been — it really is a new kind of theater.”
DCPA subscribers will have first access to tickets, starting on May 6, followed by a public on-sale starting May 20. The production will begin previews on Aug. 31 and will officially open on Sep. 13.
Byrne previously discussed Theater of the Mind with Rolling Stone in 2019, before the pandemic derailed its planned opening. “It will be in a warehouse, where it’s divided into a bunch of different rooms,” he said. “A group of 16 audience members will go from room to room and experience these perceptual things. When they leave one room, another group goes in there. That way, you can get 400 people in from 6 p.m. to 10. You get the same number as if it were a theater show, but you get more in small groups.” He also said he expected Colorado audiences to appreciate the production’s tripper elements. “I am so convinced that because it’s about perception and sensory stuff, there’s gonna be a lot of gummy bears and other stuff in there,” he said.
Kory Grow/Rolling Stone