People come to The Eureka Room to have fun, not get told what to do. I mean, they want to be told what to do (otherwise they’d just be standing there wondering “what do I do?”), but they want to be guided. They don’t want to feel taken advantage of.
The people who come to the Eureka Room are the sorts that are open-minded and ready to do weird stuff. I think it is critical to remember that the people who visit are not mine to “play with”. They are mine to help engage in a sense of play.
In some of the immersive interactive experiences I’ve had, the actors use the opportunity to mess with or take status over the participants. As a participant I never enjoy this. I mean, I paid to be entertained, not to be stepped on. While I know that some people DO attend those sorts of immersive experiences, that’s not what I want the Eureka Room to be.
When I’m creating programs for The Eureka Room I never want to fall into the roll of puppetmaster. Instead I want the Eureka Room to prop up the visitors.
One of the methods I think works best is using a narrator that is not firing on all pistons. The invitation to visitors might be described as “please humor this idiot for a bit, would you?”
Having a narrator/instructor who seems a bit off his rocker helps in different ways.
First, we’ve clearly established status. The visitors are the smart ones. There’s no battle of egos.
Second, visitors get laughs from the goofy way the narrator acts. (If I’ve done my job well).
Third, a crazy narrator has a strong voice and can establish the tone and get to the action quickly. A serious narrator would have to say “ok. I’m going to ask you to use your imaginations for the next 15 minutes. We’re going to set aside the outside world for now and get comfortable with these unusual concepts”.
A crazy narrator just screams “LOOKOUT FOR TURKEY VOLCANO OH MY GOD!!!!” while explosions happen and people choose whether they want to get on board with this reality or not.
Fourth, an unreliable narrator allows me an excuse for plot holes. As long as I keep his energy going in the right direction, people are too tuned into their right brain to question the logic of a crazy narrator.
Fifth, it allows for surprises. And people love surprises. Who knows what this nutcase is going to say or do next?
(Possibly) Sixth, I also think the narrator shares a lot in common with the “chatterbox” in our heads. We hear random crazy things all day long in our head. Not “murder your neighbor” sorts of thoughts but they kind that you go “geez, where did that come from?”.
A crazy narrator allows visitors to be in a world where strange thoughts are allowed to be free and unjudged, which might perhaps allow a reprieve of visitors’ judgments on their own thoughts. Perhaps that sharing such an experience of acceptance creates a moment of bonding and connection with others.
Or maybe it’s just funny.