From arrival to departure, Free Brownies is a completely immersive experience that is designed to constantly shift the nature of reality for participants.
Audience members arrive with little knowledge as to the true story behind the room escape. They are lead to believe it has something to do with an innocent taste trial of brownies. Though the behavior of the researcher who greets them with the consent form (i.e. waiver) is slightly off.
Room 1: The participants are lead into another room where they sit at a long table with brownies and pills sitting next to the food. The pill that they take is a miracle berry (which alters their sense of taste) and once they do, things immediately start getting weird. **Don’t worry, these are completely legal and safe to consume. People can be made aware of these in the allergies section in the waiver form**
The researcher hands them questionnaires and leaves the room while the study begins. The researcher becomes more and more strange, with hair that is changing every time he/she leaves the room. The participants are asked to solve a a questionnaire before they can advance to the next room. These tasks involve clues that come from how their perception of taste has been altered by the berries, the questionnaire and other objects in the room. For example they may have to taste something bitter to understand that the berries change their perception of bitterness to sweetness. Then by plugging it into the questionnaire they are able to hand it back to the researcher who leads them into the next room. Meanwhile lights flicker randomly. Strange noises are occurring subtley. The off-put nature of the experience is growing.
Room 2: The participants are asked to complete a series of tasks in the next room which the researcher will use to assess their capabilities. They are lead into a dark room where the researcher slams the door behind them. It becomes clear that the pill they had taken only had a minor side effect that happened to affect taste. When the lights turn on, the participants, now slowly becoming specimens, find themselves in an Ames room. Their sense of balance has been compromised. Now, the real room escape has begun as they start to realize that the researchers are studying other things about them while they are under the influence of some unknown medication.
Other Rooms: As the audience traverse from room to room, they find all of their senses become challenged to an extreme limit as the drug’s effect takes hold. They have no other way to go but to continue on, trying to make it out of the lab maze that the researchers have concocted for them. Some rooms shift their sense of sight by using a stroboscope to make water appear to levitate and require them to use the device to freeze the blades of a fan to read the messages inscribed on them. Other rooms may incorporate 3d soundscapes to shift their perception of reality by tricking their sense of sound, creating a puzzle out of clues that they hear. Music alters the shape of fire. Note: I have yet to figure out the exact details of how all of these would fit together, and what the puzzle within each example might be, but I think that is secondary to figuring out interesting mind-altering illusions that have yet to become cliche. This would involve an investment in a small team of artistically prone engineers and scientists working together to create new forms of experiencing the world.
Story Arc / Twist: The researcher who continues to talk to the participants over the intercom starts to raise the bigger questions: are these puzzles apart of some sick lab experiment that the researchers have created, or are they still stuck in the same room hallucinating the entire event? And if they are, what clues can they remember from the beginning to help them escape their current situation? How can they use the sense altering abilities of each room in determining how to get out of the original room in which they remain?
As the participants find their way out of the last challenge, they enter into the original research room with the brownies. Things are still off, but the researcher acts as if nothing happened. She/he thanks them for their time and are escorted out, though there remains an aura of strangeness around the exiting hall.
Dual Desires: This room escape experience allows participants to explore conscious altering experiences through the implied permission when they were “tricked” into the scenario. By creating a story that where the audience has been duped, they are no longer at fault for their experience, and can even enjoy the mind-altering effects as the “medication” kicks-in.
The Fourth Wall: The fourth wall is dissolved by the researcher’s incessant narration over the intercom who tells quaint anecdotes that blur the edges between room-escape event and actual insanity. Have they actually taken a drug? How do they know when they are actually out of the experience?
Originality / Exclusivity / Desirability: : Free Brownies is original in its synthesis of a variety of relatively new science/art projects that are typically unrelated. It blends these forms of art and science in ways that nobody will have ever been able to experience together. In this sense it also creates an inherent form of desirability and exclusivity. The technical side and combination of all of the science is one that has yet to ever been achieved as a holistic experience; thereby creating a truly unique experience, one that nobody can get elsewhere.