Some stories are about those who left, and others are about those who were left behind.
Meredith Treinen lost her brother almost ten years ago. grief, an immersive experience, was born out of a need to tell his story In Treinen’s own words, grief, “is an exploration into what grief feels like, what it looks like, how it effects our relationships, and how it changes the make-up of our individual fabric.”
Treinen is not new to immersive theater—she has been an active and powerful force in the artform for the past three years. With a background in experiential design and production, she has worked with Play Collaborative Arts to produce Retrograde, Erotica, and FUTURErotica, alongside two ongoing, monthly series, TinyRhino and Renditions. She has also worked with Ceaseless Fun on Why I Want to F*uck Ronald Reagan. Treinen excels in collaboratively devised work—sitting in a room with a group of artists and working to create an experience from the impetus of an idea to the execution.
Yet, grief is a much more personal venture for her. “The concept took on a lot of forms for me until a friend said to me, ‘You need to decide if this is a story about someone who left us or a story about those of us who were left behind.’” From there, the story solidified for Treinen. “Death is so often framed as the end of something, but for the rest of us, it’s the beginning of something else.”
grief will allow guests to explore the experience in a non-linear, sandbox-style manner. Treinen explains, “The show follows three sisters who are all dealing with their own grief in starkly different ways, and the audience will have opportunities to follow each character’s journey.” As the experience was forming, the word “witness” was used often—and this is an experience that the audience will witness together. “Grief is so often processed in some form of solitude. I want the audience to pull back the curtain and say, ‘Okay, wait. Let’s look at this for a bit.’”
The Instagram is filled with strikingly beautiful, yet harrowing imagery. Devoid of color, there is a specific sadness to it. When asked about it, Treinen responded, “The show’s Instagram started as a tool for me to collect and curate imagery that evoked some of the same feelings that I wanted this piece to evoke from an esthetic/visual viewpoint. The imagery has inspired everything from design to movement.”
Treinen wants this experience to feel personal to each audience member. “We’ve all experienced loss of some kind, and I think there’s something powerful about seeing your own experience reflected back to you through someone else’s.” Treinen wants this experience to be as much felt by the audience as it is by the actors: “We’re inviting the audience to witness these characters’ journeys, but these characters are also playing witness to the audience, as if they’re saying ‘Grief is a shared experience. We see you.’”