holy bitch project immersive theater

Holy Bitch Project – immersive theatre

In The Holy Bitch Project, Christiane Mudra investigates the dynamics of analog and digital violence against women in Germany and its cultural and social breeding ground through interviews with affected women and experts as an immersive theatre.

About the holy project and immersive theatre

In reference to the film Matrix (1999), the audience swallows the red pill like the film’s hero Neo, which offers a glimpse behind flawless scenes. The audience follows the performers into an interactive labyrinth of game scenes and binaural sound in which domestic, sexualized and digital violence can be experienced.

As the Alt-Right movement and the misogynistic “Incels” use the film motifs to spread misogynistic conspiracy theories, The Holy Bitch Project deliberately makes the Matrix world its own and establishes a feminist counter-narrative.


What is immersive theatre?

What is immersive theatre? This is a question that many audience members may ask themselves when they first encounter this type of performance. An immersive theatre is a form of theatre in which the performers and audience are integrated into the same environment, often blurring the lines between reality and fiction.

This can be done in a variety of ways, from completely surround sound and lighting to actors actually interacting with audience members. Some might call it an extreme experience, as it can involve physical contact or simulated experiences that are beyond what most people are used to in a traditional theatrical setting.

Immersive theater creates challenges for the sound

This work from the category of immersive theater is peppered with quite a few modern technologies. It specifically plays out the research in different formats such as performance in urban space, radio play, podcast, film, 360° live video, installation, lecture, and publication. investigative theater experiments with digital tools such as (web) apps, XR, AI, 3D sound among others, and seeks interaction with the audience.

So for me, the big challenge was that the audience would wear headphones throughout the piece. So a headphone disco system for over 50 people was rented. In advance, I produced audio content to depict different scenarios showing violence against women. The idea was not to plausibly re-enact the situation but to empathically convey how such problems can arise in everyday life.

Thanks to the 3D sound, it was possible to dive even deeper into emotions. Thus, storytelling jumped into the subjectivity of the person. As a visitor to the immersive theater, you left the role of the observer in places. Thus, recordings from the first-person perspective were also realized.

In addition, there were also spoken live texts. In part, they were combined with the recordings, which were pre-recorded. In this way, for example, an inner dialogue of the actors with their self from the past was created. This former self was literally recorded with a time delay. Quite a challenge for all the actors involved. The timing was critical and there were even scenes where several people spoke completely simultaneously. Thanks to the binaural technology, however, I was able to make the speech intelligible to all levels of narration at the same time.

In addition, the 3d sound provided several surprises: Due to the externalization, i.e. the realistic feeling that the sound comes from outside despite the headphones. Sometimes the impression was mixed whether an actor was speaking live or whether it was pre-recorded. In this way, the helpless situations of the victims could be told through the sound.

Result and review

The immersive theater piece was rightly celebrated by the press.

As a 3D sound designer, I am pleased to have been involved with the project from conception to recording and premiere.

Immersive technology offers a lot of opportunities for theatrical pieces to rethink content. Binaural audio is just the beginning, I have already been able to work with VR in this context and overcome many limitations of stereo sound. What else can you do?

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