- Pamela Flanagan is an actor in Fever and Netflix’s “Stranger Things: The Experience” show in London.
- She leads audiences through the experience and answers their question while staying in character.
- She told Insider she has to conserve energy as she only has a 15-minute break between each group.
Pamela Flanagan performs for hundreds of people five days a week as part of the cast of “Strangers Things: The Experience” in London.
The immersive adventure created by Fever in association with Netflix allows fans of the show to go on their own adventure in the “Strange Things” world, supported by multiple actors who react to everything an audience member says.
While the show is also performed in Los Angeles and Atlanta, Flanagan is part of the cast that has been performing in London since August. She told Insider that she has done immersive theater before but she hasn’t done “anything on this scale.” This meant when she was cast in the role she found the experience a “little daunting.”
“I think once we did our first full week, because then you’ve done it so many times, we were all over the fear and now it’s just second nature,” Flanagan added.
Flanagan says there’s no “typical day” for her because it purely depends on the audience.
Immersive theater can take many forms but often it means that the audience can interact with the performance either verbally or physically. This is the case for “Strangers Things: The Experience,” where Flanagan and the rest of the cast lead groups of up to 28 people through a building with multiple different sets for different locations in the fictional town of Hawkins.
These sets range from a lab set in Hawkins to a 1980s-style arcade, inspired by the show’s period setting. Depending on who she’s playing, Flanagan performs her role, responding to the audience’s comments and questions, before sending them on their way before the next group arrives, and then she repeats it all over again.
Flanagan told Insider that she has a normal morning routine of getting into one of her four characters, listening to 80s music, and putting on her costume. However, the rest of the day is not as predictable since she also has to react to the audience.
“It’s hard to say a typical day because although we’re doing the same thing, every day is different,” she said. “The audience who come in affects it so much. You could have one group and the next group comes in and the energy is totally different. And so within an hour, you can have done four completely different things.”
The actor added: “You’d be in the middle of talking and someone will talk to you or ask you a question and you have to then work with that. Some characters at the beginning really improvise with the audience, and that can be really fun because you never know what they’re gonna come out with. You have to just go with what they’re giving you and that keeps it really interesting.”
Flanagan’s favorite character is the PR representative, Blake, because she gets to make “a real impact immediately” as one of the first characters the audience meets.
“You’re kind of setting the scene for them and she’s not entirely trustworthy, so she’s quite fun to play,” the actor said.
Flanagan also plays creepy doctors and a scientist in the immersive show.
Flanagan says she has had many confusing interactions with children.
Flanagan told Insider that she hasn’t had to deal with negative responses from the audience but she has been left stunned by some comments from children.
“I had one little boy who came up to me and I was taking them through one part into the next, and he came up to me and he just said, ‘Whatever you’re doing, Eleven [played by Millie Bobby Brown in the show] will stop you.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, okay,’” Flanagan recalled. “You have to then think on your feet and be like, oh god, how do I react to this?”
She said of another instance: “We had a wonderful boy who was like, ‘If you betray me, I’ll kill you.’ And you’re a bit like, would I betray you, person I’ve never ever met?”
Flanagan said that it is important not to shut these comments down and “roll with it” because you want the audience to stay invested in the show.
“Sometimes if they’re really, really loud, and when you have a large group of kids, you have to try and politely calm them down so that they’re not completely out of control when they get into the actual experience,” the actor added.
Flanagan also noted that parents who often go only for their kids often get invested in the immersive experience as well.
“So many of them tell us at the beginning, ‘Oh, I don’t really watch it. I’m here for John and he loves it. He’s watched all of it,’” she told Insider. “And obviously, we’re playing scientists who know nothing about it because we’re in the ’80s. So we’re like, ‘What are you talking about?’ We’re just trying to bring them into the world of the show rather than talking about a TV show. It’s fascinating how many of them do get on board.”
Flanagan said that conserving energy throughout the day is the trickiest part.
Flanagan told Insider that the cast spent four weeks rehearsing before the opening night of the show, which helped because they could learn from each other.
“You were getting to watch everybody else who’s also playing [your] parts and we could stockpile ideas,” she said. “If somebody did something, you’d be like, ‘Oh, I really like that.’ So then you could try and integrate it into your character and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.”
During rehearsals, the actors were given dialect coaches to perfect their American accents.
“We’ve done it so much that you know it’s in there,” she said. “It flows in the box and I do find at home now I think my partner’s getting sick at me cause I’d be like, ‘Alrighty,’ because the American just comes out. Little elements of the characters are coming out too sometimes, and he’s just like, ‘You need to leave that at work.’”
What the training couldn’t prepare her for is the struggle of having to conserve her energy. Flanagan told Insider that making sure she doesn’t get tired is really important so that everyone has a positive experience. She only gets 15 minutes before the next group arrives.
“There are so many people and you’re constantly repeating,” the actor said. “So there was the dual kind of things to be nervous about: the constantly turning people over, but then also maintaining your energy. You don’t want one person to get you at full speed and then someone else to get you really tired. So you wanna balance that out.”
“Stranger Things: The Experience” is booking now in London, Atlanta and Los Angeles.