Assemble is a guerrilla, choose-your-own-adventure performance that transforms the mundane spaces of a well-known store into a series of worlds, fantasies and meditations.

Participants download an app to their phones and are invited to join Jane as she considers life at 40.

Participants are prompted to navigate and interact with the store through a series of choices and tasks. The resulting experience is part immersive theatre, part audio tour and an entirely unique experience for each person.

In January 2020, ASSEMBLE was presented in Brooklyn as part of the Exponential Festival. The team included: Talya Chalef, Jess Kaufman, David Blackman, Johanna Kasimow and Christopher Ross-Ewart

Assemble was remounted with a revised script and new visual design in 2022 after the team felt comfortable with the covid safety of encouraging participants to visit an indoor space.

Trailer / Teaser

Photo documentation

Immersive Screen Recordings

I developed a series of immersive iphone screen recordings for Assemble. Players watched these as part of the narrative. We found that these were strangely intimate moments, learning about someone's story through not just what they do on their phone, but even the speed of their scrolling and style of their 'liking'.


Each version of Assemble included multiple "interactives," where players were invited to draw, record and photograph.


Assemble includes a very simple drawing app using only the ikea colors of black, white, gold and blue, a single line width, and a low resolution. We loved the playful creativity our adult players found in such a child-like toy.

2019 Drawings

These drawings were made by players of the first version of Assemble. The prompt asking them to draw comes after a few heavy scenes, and we invite players to relax on a bed and draw.
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2021 Drawings

These drawings were made by players of the second version of Assemble. The prompt asking them to draw comes after a few heavy scenes, and we invite players to relax on a bed and draw.
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The second version of assemble had the opportunity for players to possibly do a drawing interactive two times. This one happens at the very end, when the player has made a choice between embracing IKEA-consumption-capitalism, or rejecting it. This drawing interactive occurs on the rejection path, which over 90% of players chose.
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Here, players are embodying a child who has been distracting their mother on the phone. They are being asked to sit quietly and play with a limited set of crayons.
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2019 Day At The Office Before Photo

This interactive occurs on a player's first day at a soul crushing new job. An effusive IKEA-announcer directs them to gather items for their desk to make them feel at home, and, more importantly, for an instagram photo. They have a video-game-like sixty second countdown and fast-paced music to heighten the tension.

This was a hard interactive. Some players realized that they would need to be creative, and ended up making strange assemblages of many boxes of paperclips or other abstract arrangements. Others gave up, due to a combination of not quickly finding appropriate objects nearby.

We debated if this interactive would make too much unnecessary mess for IKEA employees, ultimately deciding that it was acceptable given how many small tweaks to the display we saw that went untouched in the model rooms for weeks. Seeing these assemblages weeks later still on the desk was a secret joy for the Assemble team.

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This interactive occurs after the player hears an argument between a couple and then closely follows the partner who said she needed to leave the apartment to clear her head. We ask the player to sit on a couch and take a photo of a framed IKEA print that says "Escape."

We enjoyed the repetition of seeing so many photos of the same, boring, trite photo, as well as the few players who couldn't find the right photo and took a photo of an exit sign instead.

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After embodying the repetitive actions of a person with Alzheimer's disease, we asked players to sit on a couch, take a few deep breaths, and photograph a detail of a stretched canvas reproduction of Monet's waterlilies (yours for only $49.99).

My favorite part of this is the way the exaggerated texture of the canvas becomes magnified, as well as the way some players photographed the entire print.

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Assemble uses a mildly ridiculous technology stack.

The core logic is a Twine game, which was chosen because it provides a separation between the game logic and the wrapper around it, allows for easy extension via javascript and provides a visualization of the choices in the game.

The Twine app uses a few thousand lines of custom javascript for the interactives, along with a custom twine macro for the "timed audio" that is at the heart of the game - a scene starts, audio starts playing, basic player controls are shown, at various times within the audio new text might appear, and at a specified time before the audio is over, some button choices appear. On top of this, there's a custom build process to validate that all the audio files are used correctly.

The twine app is published in the iOS and android app stores, bundled with all the audio and video (because we can't guarantee high quality internet access in the store), with the capability to download a new script as well as new binary files on start. The native app wrapper is Apache Cordova which is a cross-platform mobile app wrapper specifically for wrapping an html webview combined with a number of extensions to be able to hook into native controls (like vibration, audio and low-power checking) via javascript.