“Sleep No More” Performers Claim Assault By Audience Members

“Sleep No More” is one of New York’s most creative and iconic shows. Created by London-based theater company Punchdrunk and currently managed by Emersive, it’s an interactive and otherworldly experience in a renovated warehouse in Chelsea dubbed “The McKittrick Hotel.”

“Sleep No More” is a (very) loose and artistic interpretation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Audience members (who often pay upwards of $100 per ticket) begin their experience in a smoky, sexy bar where they are encouraged to purchase drinks and suspend their knowledge of reality. Everyone receives a playing card upon entry, and your hand determines when you are allowed to enter the performance space. Donning white masks, audience members are encouraged to wander throughout the extensive set, exploring whatever rooms they please (from a 1940’s hotel lobby to a foggy graveyard), following Macbeth and his compatriots. Performers interact with individuals, breaking the fourth wall and even sometimes pulling them aside for a private monologue performance.

However, the magical atmosphere has led to some issues. Buzzfeed has released an in-depth report showing that several dancers and actors have reported being sexually assaulted by audience members. Performers - some of which perform nude, or nearly nude - have filed multiple reports of assault; these reports range from audience members aggressively following them when they are changing or undressing to groping their genitals during a performance.

One of the dancers speaking out may be familiar to you. Billy Bell, who was part of Season 6 and 7 of So You Think You Can Dance, has performed in “Sleep No More” as Boy Witch. Bell claims that he has been physically groped by audience members multiple times during his time with the show. And he’s not the only one - several others have come forward with similar claims.

Read the full article here (warning: content material not suitable for young audiences)

About the author

Anne Luben has performed works by notable choreographers such as Donald McKayle, Bill T. Jones, Jiri Kylian, Idan Cohen, Alex Ketley, and Summer Lee Rhatigan, among others.