Fear Thy Nature (Ep. 92)
What do you do when you experience something — an immersive, interactive theatrical performance, say — and it scrambles your brain completely?
Make a podcast, of course.
The episode is about how profoundly human behavior is influenced not only by our inner bearings but by our outer circumstances. That sounds quite dull, doesn’t it? Hopefully the podcast is more interesting than this description. It centers on the fascinating show Sleep No More, created by the British theater group Punchdrunk; and the famous 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, in which student volunteers were asked to play the role of inmates and prison guards. What do the SPE and SNM have in common? Give a listen to find out.
Along the way, you’ll hear from Philip Zimbardo, the psychologist (and author of The Lucifer Effect) who created the Stanford Prison Experiment (see the documentary film Quiet Rage for more); Sleep No More co-creator Felix Barrett, who more closely resembles a social scientist than most theater directors; and from a variety of Sleep No More creators, performers, and audience members.
You’ll also hear from Steve Levitt:
LEVITT: When I teach my class on the economics of crime to the undergraduates at the U. of C., one of the points that I stress over and over is that the puzzle is not why is there so much crime, the puzzle is just the opposite, why is there so little crime? Why does the average person who has literally hundreds of chances to commit crimes in a day not take advantage of those?
This was a massively fun episode to make, and special thanks are due to producer Suzie Lechtenberg (who always does great work but in this case surpassed her own high standard); engineer David Herman (whose sound design and editorial feel are likewise always excellent but, again, super-excellent in this episode); and Jonathan Hochwald, who helped make our Sleep No More dream a reality. Hope you enjoy.