Sleep No More
Written byFelix Barrett and Maxine Doyle, with the Company
CharactersDuncan, Malcolm, Macbeth, Banquo, Macduff, Porter,

Lady Macbeth,
Lady Macduff,
Male Witch,
Two Female Witches,
The Second Mrs. de Winter,
Mrs. Danvers,
Speakeasy Bartender,
Man in Bar,
Annie Darcy,
Elsie Price,

The Annie Darcy Band
Mutemost of the characters
Date premieredOctober 8, 2009 (2009-10-08)
Place premieredOld Lincoln School, Brookline, Massachusetts
 United States
Original languageEnglish
SeriesThe Donkey Show,
Best of Both Worlds
Manderley manor
Official site

Sleep No More is an immersive theatre production created by British theatre company Punchdrunk. Based on Punchdrunk's original 2003 London production, the company reinvented Sleep No More in a co-production with the American Repertory Theatre (A.R.T.), which opened at the Old Lincoln School in Brookline, Massachusetts on October 8, 2009.[1] It won Punchdrunk the Elliot Norton Award for Best Theatrical Experience 2010.[2]


The production was a new and expanded version[citation needed] of Punchdrunk's 2003 production of the same name which was performed in the Beaufoy Building, London, a disused Victorian school.[3] Unlike a conventional stage play, Sleep No More is an immersive experience in which audiences are free to explore the world of the performance at will. It combined plot and characters of Shakespeare's Macbeth with characters, narrative, and aesthetic elements inspired by the films of Hitchcock, in particular Rebecca, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by English author Daphne du Maurier.[4]

Relationship to Macbeth

Assistant director Paul Stacey says that "every line of Shakespeare's Macbeth is embedded in the multiple languages—sound, light, design, and dance—of Sleep No More."[5]


There were 18 characters in the 2009 production of Sleep No More, most of them taken directly from Shakespeare's Scottish tragedy, Macbeth.[6]

Immersion of audience

Audience members are invited to explore the world of the production in their own time, choosing for themselves what to watch and where to go.[7]

Unlike a conventional play, in which all audience members share the experience of witnessing the same events on the same stage, Sleep No More provides the audience with a more fragmented,[citation needed] multi-layered and individualized experience. As directors Felix Barrett and Maxine Doyle say in the program notes, "exploring the space individually, the audience is given the opportunity to both act in and direct their own film; to revisit, to edit and to indulge themselves as voyeurs."[6]

Absence of dialogue

Though the plot is driven forward by events and interactions, Punchdrunk has developed a unique physical performance language in which there is almost no speaking by the performers. In describing Sleep No More, the directors write that "Screen dialogues become intense physical duets between characters and the body becomes the site of debate. Spoken words rarely find their way into our world; we are excited by the human body as a primary source of emotive storytelling."[6]

Old Lincoln School

The venue for Sleep No More was the surplus[8] Old Lincoln School[9][10][11][12] at 194 Boylston Street (Route 9) in Brookline, Massachusetts. The complex and overlapping subplots unfolded across 44 rooms on all four stories of the school building.[13]


Sleep No More is directed and devised by Felix Barrett and Maxine Doyle, with the company.

The Annie Darcy Band

Sleep No More and the ART

Sleep No More was presented as part of the ART's Shakespeare Exploded! festival, which included The Donkey Show,[15] a disco adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Best of Both Worlds, an R&B/gospel musical inspired by The Winter's Tale.[15]

Production dates

Though the production was to run from October 8, 2009 to January 3, 2010, the run was extended through February 7, 2010.[14] The extended run sold out. Sleep No More won Punchdrunk the Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Theatrical Experience 2010.[2]


See also


  1. ^ Staff reports (October 8, 2009). "Massive theater production opens in Brookline tonight". Brookline Tab. Retrieved January 11, 2010.
  2. ^ a b "28TH ELLIOT NORTON AWARDS: 2010". Elliot Norton Award. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  3. ^ "Punchdrunk website - Sleep No More". punchdrunk. 2011-04-13. Archived from the original on 2010-07-04. Retrieved 2011-07-05.
  4. ^ Helen Cooper. "Theater as Experience: London Company brings unique presentation to Boston". Encore magazine. Archived from the original on 2009-12-18. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  5. ^ Stacey, Paul (November 2009). "Very Superstitious". Sleep No More Program notes (PDF). Encore Magazine. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 February 2012. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Barrett, Felix; Doyle, Maxine (November 2009). "Colliding Worlds: Shakespeare, Hitchcock, and Punchdrunk". Sleep No More Program notes (PDF). Encore Magazine. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 February 2012. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  7. ^ Anderman, Joan (October 4, 2009). "Mystery theater: British troupe Punchdrunk teams with the ART to explode theatergoers' expectations". The Boston Globe. Boston. p. 3. Retrieved January 2, 2010.
  8. ^ Town of Brookline Massachusetts Parks and Open Space Division (January 2, 2005). "William H. Lincoln School Playground (Old)". Retrieved November 1, 2010.
  9. ^ Simpson, Neal (May 14, 2009). "London theater wants to rent out Brookline's Old Lincoln School for elaborate production". Brookline Tab. Retrieved January 11, 2010.
  10. ^ Ackerman, Meghann (June 18, 2009). "Brookline schools considering theater company proposal". Brookline Tab. Retrieved January 11, 2010.
  11. ^ Ackerman, Meghann (June 26, 2009). "Brookline's Old Lincoln to become temporary theater". Brookline Tab. Retrieved January 11, 2010.
  12. ^ Simpson, Neal (August 25, 2009). "Theater company scavenges for Brookline's castoffs to complete offbeat production". Brookline Tab. Retrieved January 11, 2010.
  13. ^ Helen Shaw (2009-12-18). "Review: Punchdrunk's Sleep No More". Time Out New York. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  14. ^ a b "ART website - Sleep No More". ART. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  15. ^ a b "Best of Both Worlds". American Repertory Theater. Retrieved 2011-11-21.