illuminati_ball-1-nyc-untapped_citiesPhoto by Mark Shelby Perry

Lavish, eccentric, mysterious, and exclusive is what someone would call The Illuminati Ball. Recently, Untapped Cities had the opportunity to step into the secret world of one. The Illuminati Ball, a production created by playwright and director Cynthia von Buhler, was inspired by leaked photos from the infamous Surrealist Party hosted by the Baron and Baroness de Rothschild in 1972. A night of immersive theater, von Buhler describes the play as “a surreal, bourgeois dinner party filled with power struggles, morality tests, and anthropomorphic escapades.” 

Staying true to its secretive nature, attendees are not allowed to drive themselves to the event. Instead, a limousine bus picks you up on the Upper East Side in New York City and brings you to a massive, waterfront estate outside of the city (the location and owner are to remain secret). For the festivities, attendees dress to the nines (long capes are always welcome). To complete the look, unique masks and hats will be provided.

illuminati_ball-2-nyc-untapped_citiesPhoto by Mark Shelby Perry

As an “immersive excursion,” attendees are essentially cut of from reality by having their cell phones collected in the limousine so that the night can be experienced fully, and without any distractions. Attendees are also assigned characters belonging to either the pig, monkey, cow, chicken or mouse family. Each group has a certain mission, certain things they will experience throughout the night, making them part of the story, both as a spectator and actor. Upon arrival, attendees are briefed, masked, and rehearsed, ready for a night of fire performance, opera, aerial silk acts, and esoteric ritual ceremonies.

illuminati_ball-5-nyc-untapped_citiesPhoto by Mark Shelby Perry

Everything at the Illuminati Ball is made to surprise you by playing with the five senses, particularly challenging our perceptions of sight. The experience plays with your mind, challenging what you see and can’t see. For example, the aerialists pictured play a big role, as a part of the dining portion of the night. Additionally, the first course is eaten blindfolded, leaving diners to rely solely on their sense of smell and touch.

illumiati_ball-3-nyc-untapped_citiesPhoto by Mark Shelby Perry

In keeping with the exclusivity of the 1972 Rothschild ball, the number of guests is limited to 30 people, resulting in a 2:1 ratio of actor to guest. Despite this firm number, the play blurs the lines between spectator and actor. Actors are also guests, one minute performing, the next sitting next to you for dinner, enjoying the moment along with you as a spectator. While there is co-mingling throughout the night, some experiences, like the milk baths allow actors and spectators to participate in events together.

illuminati_ball-aerialists-dinner-nyc-untapped_citiesPhoto by Mark Shelby Perry

The Illuminate Ball pushes the limits on what constitutes theater. Held on an estate outside of New York, it is a play like no other, unrestricted by the bounds of a classic stage setting. There is no separation between stage and audience. With full access to the entire estate, no section becomes unused. What’s more, the Ball maintains the concept of a secret society by being held at an undisclosed location, inaccessible to the public, far from New York City’s theater scene.

illuminati_ball-performance-nyc-untapped_citiesPhoto by Mark Shelby Perry

Sound intrigued? Should you like to try out this immersive theater experience, tickets are $450, but well worth it if you have the funds. Multiple Balls are planned through October of this year. To apply for a ticket to this exclusive event, check out their website.

illuminati_ball-mask-nyc-untapped_citiesPhoto by Mark Shelby Perry

Cynthia von Buhler holds hosts more affordable, unique, immersive theater experience in Williamsburg, Brooklyn called the Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Bloody Beginning, bringing to life the actual unsolved Prohibition-era murder of Cynthia von Buhler’s bootlegger grandfather, featuring live jazz, burlesque, mobsters, moonshine, and more. Tickets for July and August 2016 showings are on sale now.

Next, check out the Top 10 Secrets of NYC’s Webster Hall