10 things you should know about sensory theater

10 things you should know about sensory theater

If you like theater but you want something different than traditional plays, here you can read more about sensory theater. If you’ve never heard about it, here are 10 things you should know before going. The experience can be surprising and it will certainly be unique.


Sensory theater is a theater without a stage. The spectators have their own experience. They usually go one by one through a series of artistic interactions that take place in different spaces. A kind of labyrinth in which the audience is active and turns into a co-creator of the performance.


The plot is not based on fixed dramaturgy, as in classical theater, but everyone invents their own dramaturgy according to their own perceptions and interpretations. There is no text or person to state: that’s the plot.


It involves all the senses: smell, touch, hearing, vision, taste. You can find yourselves in a completely dark place or you can get blindfolded. This method activates the other senses, rather than vision, provokes unexpected emotions and can eventually turn you towards your inner world.


Uses symbols and archetypes. Speaks the language of the unconscious. Has a deep impact and that’s why you can often hear about its therapeutic effect. But it is not an artistic therapy.


It is surprising. It has elements of different art forms: dance, photography, pantomime, visual arts, music, etc. Different aesthetics are intertwined in it. The performance can start from a common place – some kitchen, for example. While you’re having a regular conversation with the house lady (an actress) and you reach for the milk from the fridge, you can find yourselves in a pure bright tunnel where you’ll dance with a surrealistic bird (an actress). The boundaries are blurred. Your curiosity is your leader.


Apartments, streets, old public bathrooms, museums, vaults, storehouses, parks… A theater without a building. A theater that exposes the buildings that it inhabits in an unusual way. Its inspirations are their history, architecture and context. We perceive them as living books. A palimpsest whose secret we reveal, together with the audience.


We create it during a group creative process. Each member of our team contributes with their own ideas and talent. The leader of the process complies with the course and is aware of the compass and the navigational system. A beautiful exchange and movement between the individual and the collective, and balance – fragile as glass and strong as а spider web.


Sensory theater was born a long time ago in the Colombian coffee plantations as a child’s play, created by Enrique Vargas (b. 1940, theater director, dramaturg, teacher and anthropologist). Who would think that years later, this labyrinth of little sensory gifts among the roots of the trees, will develop to the extent of receiving the UNESCO award for a new theatrical language?


It has existed in Bulgaria for almost 20 years. It started among the forests of Papaz Chaír and Bela Rechka and gradually entered the cities of Plovdiv and Sofia. The Welsh theater director Iwan Brioc came to Bulgaria, invited by BIVEDA association, and trained the first artists.


There are several existing Bulgarian organizations: “Sensory Тheater Sofia”, “Sensory theater Labyrinth – Periskop”, the “Atelier Plastelin” crew, “Doseg” and of course we, Inner Theater Company.


“Born of Fire” on the road.

“Born of Fire” on the road.
Screenings of the documentary in 9 Bulgarian cities.

After it premiered on the international film festival “Master of Arts”, then was screened on many prestigious cinema forums and was awarded Best Debut Documentary on the “Golden Rhyton” awards in 2022 (a festival for documentary and animation), „Born of Fire” is coming back for the new season. Up to now it was praised by the audience in Sofia, Plovdiv, Burgas and Varna. In 2024 there are upcoming screenings in 9 more Bulgarian cities and towns: Asenovgrad, Veliko Tarnovo, Gabrovo, Kyustendil, Pazardjik, Svoge, Stara Zagora, Haskovo and Shipka.

After each screening the director Sasha Hadjieva and people from the crew will participate in open discussion with the audience and will answer their questions as well as share interesting details from the “kitchen”. These screenings will be followed by a live performance with fire.

The film is about the art of fire dance and fire theater in Bulgaria – a genre that is relatively unknown, defined as dance, performance, fire theater, circus art, juggling art or flow arts.

While tracking the fire performers in Bulgaria, Sasha Hadjieva and her crew try to find out why the impact and the hypnotic effect of this art on the audience are so strong.

“We followed and documented the work of more than 30 fire artists – some of them individually performing and others being part of different artistic formations. We show shots and performances that will make you hold your breath and also emphasize on the different styles and aesthetics, the inspirations and emotions of the artists. Each one of them has walked their own unique way.”, said the director for the Bulgarian National Radio.

“Born of Fire” encompasses the artists’ stories in a series of candid interviews and builds a different artistic and multi-layered world, represented by the stunning camera work of Rumen Vassilev and the memorable music written by Kliment Dichev. Fire is a metaphor for freedom, a means for expressing emotions and delivering messages, a road to one’s own self, a means for challenge and going beyond.


Director and screenwriter / Sasha Hadjieva
DOP / Rumen Vassilev
Second camera / Boris Lukanov, Ogi Stoilov, Alexander Krumov
Music and sound design / Kliment Dichev
Post production / Petar Gulov
Motion design / Diana Ilignosheva
Costumes consultant / Raya Karpacheva
Translator / Iliana Oblakova
With the participation of /// Viktor Teofilov, Gergana Staneva, Dario Tabakov, Daniel Nguyen, Diana Atanasova, Denitsa Doncheva, Elena Pap, Ivan Tsenkov, Ivanka Kolchakova, Kaya Nguyen, Kiril Uzunov, Maria Nikolova, Maria Slavova, Martin Marinov, Milena Sergeeva, Nikolay Kolev, Nikolay Raichev, Petya Bozhinova, Plamen Ivanov, Plamen Petkov, Plamen Radev, Raya Karpacheva, Raya Tsolova, Rozaliya Mitrova, Sasha Hadjieva, Tanya Racheva.


For more information, you can follow the official Facebook page of “Born of Fire”.

The film’s distribution is accomplished by Sasha Hadjieva (D-ZEN Studio) and Inner Theater Company with financial support from the National Culture Fund of Bulgaria.

Can freedom be mapped?

Can freedom be mapped?

“Cartography of freedom” is a project started by Gabriela Petrova in 2022 that keeps on developing in time.

Its long-term purpose is to map in a way the spaces of freedom in different cities – internal and external, intimate and public spaces.

We travel, we explore, we find inspiring places and…

We conduct an intensive creative process with local artists during which we examine and liven up key urban locations through the prism of the possible/impossible freedom. We are inspired by the concept that is laid down in Erich Fromm’s book “Escape from freedom” (later published as “The Fear of freedom”) about the existence of two types of freedom: “freedom from” and “freedom to”. We don’t offer ready-made answers but questions and we aim to open a space for disputes and discussions with the artists and the audience.

New city, new team, new questions, new points of view…

Each edition introduces the participants to specific aspects of the methodology of sensory, immersive and site-specific theater and is different, depending on the context of the place where it takes place.

During this process we create performance-installations that involve the audience through some sort of experience in the subject which is both timeless and painfully entwined in the current state of things.

Until now, “Cartography of freedom” had performances in Sofia and Burgas. You can find more information about each of the events in the “Training and Development” section.