Adventurous theatergoers will be whisked from Manhattan to a secluded lakefront estate outside of the city for a lavish dinner, exotic cocktails, and an extraordinary theatrical excursion inspired by the infamous Surrealist Ball hosted by the Baron and Baroness de Rothschild in 1972.
It’s all part of The Illuminati Ball, the latest production from playwright and director Cynthia von Buhler, creator of such acclaimed immersive theater experiences as Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic at The Liberty Theater (2015), Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Brothers Booth at The Players Club (2014), and Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Bloody Beginning, which ran in an historic Lower East Side speakeasy from 2011–2014.
Von Buhler said the inspiration for The Illuminati Ball was sparked by leaked photos from the de Rothschild’s legendary 1972 fete, which drew elaborately masked guests like Salvador Dali and Audrey Hepburn to the powerful couple’s massive mansion in France. She describes the play as “a surreal, bourgeois dinner party filled with power struggles, morality tests, and anthropomorphic escapades.” Coining the term “immersive excursion,” von Buhler explains it as “travel for the curious who enjoy actively engaging in a performance, rather than passively watching it.”
In addition to delighting in mouthwatering delicacies and libations as the story unfolds, guests will be dazzled with a fire performance, opera, aerial silk acts, and esoteric ritual ceremonies. On select dates, Prodigy of Mobb Deep, one of hip-hop’s most original acts, will make a guest appearance to perform a new song he wrote for The Illuminati Ball that combines elements of rap and opera.
“Illuminati and secret societies have been a recurrent subject in my lyrics throughout my career,” said Prodigy. “I find The Illuminati Ball to be a very intriguing play and I am extremely honored that Cynthia invited me to be a part of the production.”
In keeping with the exclusivity of the de Rothschild’s affair, the list for each performance is limited to thirty guests (resulting in a 2:1 actor to guest ratio), who must first complete an application and be approved prior to purchasing tickets. Upon approval, they will be asked to choose an animal kinship of pig, monkey, cow, chicken, or mouse, which will shape their experience throughout the evening.
Guests are whisked away in a luxury limousine bus and transported to the secret estate, which is located on a secluded peninsula just one hour from Manhattan. En route, champagne will be served while guests are briefed, masked and rehearsed. Candidates will be returned to the city via the limousine before midnight.
The play is written and directed by Cynthia von Buhler. She is also the set designer. PJ Mead is the Associate Director. The cast are TJ Hospodar (Pig King), Travis Moore (Chumazee), Delysia LaChatte (Circe), Prodigy, Justin Moore (Moloch), Kat Mon Dieu (Demeter), Luka Fric (Vacanti), Eden Atencio (Kamadhenu), Katie Kat (Parthenope), Vincent Cinque (Dr. Rubenstein/Pig King), Koppyr Snyder (understudy) and Persephone, a miniature pot-bellied pig, as herself. Aerial is performed by Rachel Boyadjis and Sara Zepezauer. Fire performance is by Lady Blaze. Kat Mon Dieu is the costume designer.
The chef is Erin Orr and the mixologist is Bootleg Greg. The recipes for the tasting menu served at The Illuminati Ball can be found at Orr’s food blog, Big Sis Little Dish. Adding still more mystery to the exquisite affair, the first course will be enjoyed blindfolded, heightening the experience and lending nuance to this initial dish.
What: The Illuminati Ball: An Immersive Excursion by Cynthia von Buhler
Where: A secret location one hour outside of Manhattan
When: Bi-monthly on Saturday evenings through August 2016 (specific dates here) 6:00pm – midnight
Tickets: $450 per person (includes dinner, cocktails, and luxury round-trip transportation)