Have you ever had an immersive theatre experience that blurred the lines between reality and fantasy? One that made you ask yourself, “Could this really stir up something unexpected?” Well, The Thule Spirit Machine Experience presented by Diehl Marcus & Company, the antique and curio shop located in Los Angeles, did just that. Business owners and husband and wife Christian Marcus and Erika Diehl hosted the evening affair. It was an intimate gathering with space for only a limited number of people.
The story goes that in 1942, amid World War II, British forces found an unidentified piece of equipment from a German plane crash. Upon examination, it was discovered that it was part of a contraption designed to create a channel to the spirit realm. Nothing further was done with the machine until a second piece was found during the Cold War in Russia. At this point, both sides tried to reconstruct the mysterious mechanism to bring forth a Ghost Army, but to no avail. Over the years, random pieces appeared at auctions. Then, a group of scientists successfully resurrected the Thule Spirit Machine, which Mr. Marcus was able to get his hands on to present to the public.
The apparatus was on display for only two nights. This exclusive engagement came with a precaution – that unknown forces, possibly malevolent, might be contacted that could trigger unforeseen consequences. Quite startling, no?
Individuals settled into their seats or took their place around the room, doors were closed, phones completely shut off and lights put out. Once Sir Marcus informed us of the machine’s mysterious origins and how he obtained the object, it was time for the show to begin. While another gentleman controlled what looked like a switchboard, Christian Marcus uncovered the device, which had a sizable porthole that glowed. This was the entryway by which otherworldly beings could pass. The device was also only able to be powered for no more than 30 minutes. This was for the safety of all involved. Christian took his seat to lead the group in a séance. He also invited anyone in the party to ask questions in order to make contact.
What followed was very interesting. Lights flickered and indiscriminate voices could be heard coming from the machine in response to certain questions. To increase the chances of making contact, Marcus had the operator of the machine increase the power level gradually. This caused objects to fall and suddenly one man jumped from his seat to get fresh air, became upset and began speaking with a British accent crying for the machine to be turned off. Then, a young woman began acting very strangely, disrobed and became unconscious of what was happening around her. Luckily, there was a clairvoyant amongst us that was able to return her to her senses. Marcus had to retrieve an exorcism kit, and Hebrew and Latin text were read to rid the space of the evil spirt that had come through. There was no question that the machine had to be turned off and the ritual ceased.
I was a bit disoriented when the lights were turned back on. Guests were invited to stay to mingle, imbibe in cocktails and speak with each other about what had been witnessed. This was my first time experiencing immersive theatre. I haven’t quite done something where I could engage with the story. The entire evening was very enjoyable and served up just the type of macabre I love.
Diehl Marcus & Company offers not only enchanting antiques and curious finds, but also singular experiences that entertain and transport you. Shop owners Erika and Christian were wonderful hosts and a pleasure to meet. I am pleased that I had the chance to finally attend an event here and I look forward to future soirees the shop plans.
Have you had any memorable immersive theatre experiences? Please tell me all about it in the comments below!