The ABC Project is a series of 26 site-specific pieces of interactive theater written and directed by Anne Katherine Lesser (...please, call me annie). After the premiere of ABC Project's A(Partment 8) Stage Raw declared, "In the few years since she landed in Los Angeles, experimental playwright-director Annie Lesser has firmly established herself as one of the most fearless and adventurous forces in the city's emerging immersive scene."
LA Weekly named The ABC Project the city's Most Extreme Audience Immersion in their Best of LA issue in October 2016, and in December 2016 included The ABC Project in their list of LA's top theater of the year. "Courageous actors and Lesser’s fertile invention and exacting eye made each show an exhilarating and profoundly unsettling journey into the poetics of extreme intimacy."-LA Weekly
Taking place in a freight elevator at the back of 939 Studio E(levator) is presented along with Students and Friends on the second and ground floors respectively as a vendiagram of experiences. All 3 shows that intertwine around a series of events at The Maple Institute, a fictitious mental health facility that cares about art therapy.
E(levator): It's your first day on the job. But is this the right line of work?
Students: You are meeting some interesting people for extra credit. What makes them special?
Friends: You are saying goodbye to someone who has cared for you for a while. But is this goodbye the end?
"We were so involved, they completely pulled us in...Annie Lesser is the Quentin Tarantino of Immersive Theater." -My Haunt Life
"Few directors could execute concurrent shows that bleed so deftly into each other; with impeccable timing between all three. E(levator,) Students, and Friends suffer only from the audience being left with a desire to do more, to talk more, to care more, to delve into the hidden stories of the mentally ill. Lesser’s mind has adeptly created genuine characters; the disorders featured, and mental health issues themselves, become deeply accessible due to the impressive cast. You may not be able to fix what is broken, but it will be far easier to see the cracks." -HAUNTING.NET
Held at Stark Spirits Micro-Distillery in Pasadena, D(istillery) is an experiment in 360-degree multi-sensory storytelling done at the home of Stark Spirits in Pasadena.
"Immersive theatre is more than byzantine plots and the landscapes to match. At its core is the most fundamental connection between speakers and listeners — verbal or otherwise-where the lines blur as to who is whom. While D(istillery) hews to a more traditional theatrical role of audience as listeners, the signal has rarely come through with such clarity and resonance. All thanks to Lesser’s impeccable immersive instincts"-No Proscenium
"...one of the most refreshing, creative, and innovative approaches to immersive theatre to date...D(istillery) is a self-contained discourse on the very human feeling of being trapped within one’s own mistakes. Like an exhalation after a stiff drink, Annie Lesser’s words breathe fire. D(istillery) is an exploration of what remains when you crawl back from regret." -HAUNTING.NET
Remount of A(partment 8)
Past Productions The Chalet and A(partment 8) for more details.
The Chalet: An Adaptation of A(partment 8)
The Chalet was based on The ABC Project’s A(partment 8), an immersive performance for an audience of one. Presented at Timberline Lodge, the hotel where the exteriors of The Shining were shot, this event was part of The Overlook Film Festival. In The Chalet audience members took a walk in someone else’s skin for a fully immersive theatrical experience. Starring Keight Leighn.
"If you have a chance to be a part of an encounter like this from The ABC Project, please do it. It’s an incredibly special experience, one that will stay with you and maybe even change you a little."-Birth.Movies.Death./AV Club
"The Chalet is incredibly effective, well-conceived, and truly terrifying." -Buzzfeed
"'The Chalet' is creepy and disorienting, but also deep with feeling."-IndieWire
"...put the lone audience member inside a situation where they’re forced to grapple with their own darker impulses, to heartbreaking effect."-The Verge
"...an extremely intense experience...something I'll think about for a long time."-Portland Mercury
"You can only lose if you play. But playing is half the game."
This 3-hour long experience includes a mini preshow and postshow presentations as well as a one to two hour long game at the center of the evening. 15 Audience capacity. Includes open bar and hor d'oeuvres. Cast in Alphabetical Order: Dana Benedict: Happy; Dasha Kittredge: Miss Vaga; Keight Leighn: The Lion Tamer; Terence Leclere: Sad; Annie Lesser: The Bearded Lady; Matt Price: Doctor; Katelyn Schiller: Tiger/Lion; Orion Schwalm: Klutz; Scott Sytten: Dumb; Lena Valentine: The Speaker
"Its carefully orchestrated illogic is one of the show’s genuine pleasures. Lesser’s playful, semi-nonsensical lyricism and emotionally wounded comic caricatures evoke the double-edged paradoxes and existential absurdities most associated with Lewis Carroll,"-LA Weekly
THRILLIST RECOMMENDED BEST THINGS TO DO MARCH 2017
"I found myself wanting to stay inside the world that she had created. That’s a feeling that I’m always looking for in an immersive, and the longing to be back there in that room with those characters held on strongly for hours afterward...Fans of Lesser’s previous work should know that she’s firing on all cylinders here,"-No Proscenium
""This is a blast!"-MY HAUNT LIFE
"C(ovell) isn’t just a game, it isn’t just a side show, it isn’t just an open bar; no, it’s a carefully curated immersive experience with a narrative, a theme, and a heart. It’s a magical evening spent drinking with friends, sharing secrets, and learning of another world. It’s a piece of art. Do yourself a favor and see this show. It is fun, it is entertaining, and it is emotional."-HAUNTING.NET
Is his life is in your hands? Or is yours in hers? The second play in the ABC project shifts based on how you answer. Two audience members. One actor. Multiple outcomes. Starring Mikie Beatty.
This critically acclaimed show confronted how much we let love control our lives through both a 25minute experience and a 10minute experience at LA Native Barbers.
"B(arbershop) is a step back from the precipice of the irrational violence that so charged A(partment 8) with its sense of audience-implicating danger, what continues to be exciting is seeing Lesser fearlessly experiment without the firewall of the physical and figurative distance between spectator and performer that mediates the traditional drama. Even when its fireworks prove less than incendiary, the ABC Project provokes an introspective self-awareness all too rare for the stage." -LA Weekly
"With any immersive piece the moment you make me forget I'm in a play, that I'm in something theatrical, and I treat it as if it's real, it's job well done you've got me. And that's what happens and that's what happens with this."-MY HAUNT LIFE
Take a walk in someone else's skin in this fully immersive theatrical experience. One audience member per performance. Morbid and disturbing with a twinge of black humor. Starring Keight Leighn.
This astounding run of over 100 performances done one audience member at a time occured in June of 2016. The show won the O Face Award for Best Acting at the Hollywood Fringe and was nominated for Top of the Fringe, Best World Premiere, Best Movement or Dance Piece and the Duende Distinction Award.
"Lesser not only successfully implicates audience members in their own sundry crimes of the heart but opens a space between empathy and horror for something more critically and morally contemplative." - Stage Raw
"Those looking for a darkly original work that sticks with you long after it's finished, A(partment 8) is worth the admission price."-LAist
"Annie Lesser has a small wonder on her hands, and actress Keight Leighn pretty much defines the term fearless at this point." -No Proscenium
"I was stunned. Also, I realized several tears were streaming down my face probably somewhere between minute three and five. What was revealed hit me at a very personal level. To achieve such an emotional impact in such a short amount of time is an achievement that deserves applause."-MY HAUNT LIFE
"This could be one of the most intimate, visceral experiences ever created... It is a transformation. You walk in one person and walk out another." -Gia On The Move