“None of us ever imagined we’d be here talking about the show in 2023 — it was only on sale for six weeks at first,” Felix Barrett, artistic director of Punchdrunk and a co-creator of “Sleep No More,” said on Wednesday. “Above all it was the audiences in New York who embraced our show and made it such a success.”
Though it is hardly New York’s longest-running immersive theater event (that honor most likely belongs to “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding”), “Sleep No More” helped to alter and expand the landscape of immersive theater in New York, encouraging new possibilities for design, environment and participation.
Moody, dark and decadent, the wordless show attracted a legion of super fans, some of whom saw it dozens of times. Not all of those masked fans behaved appropriately. In 2018 Buzzfeed published an exposé in which performers and staffers detailed multiple instances of sexual misconduct. The postpandemic iteration addressed this, advising attendees to “please give your fellow patrons and the residents a bit of breathing room and keep a respectful distance.”
When it closes in January, the show will have played 5,000 performances in its New York City incarnation, serving two million audience members, Hochwald and his producing partner, Arthur Karpati, estimated. For now, the producers plan to continue the McKittrick’s other late-night shows and its bars will remain open, but they are uncertain if they will host another major show.
“We want more than anything to finish up strong and to leave a great legacy,” Hochwald said.