Designing Immersive Gatherings With Zach Morris of Third Rail Projects - Atlas Obscura Experiences

Designing Immersive Gatherings With Zach Morris of Third Rail Projects

Multiple Dates
4 sessions
$215 per person
Up to 33 people
See Dates
$215 per person
$215 per person
See Dates
What We’ll Do

In this 4-part workshop, explore the ethos and attributes of immersive experiences and begin designing one of your own.

Course Description

Immersive experiences have taken center stage over the past several years, whether as escape rooms, festivals, pop-ups, and performances. But what does it mean for an event to be truly immersive, and what does it take to create one?

In this four-part seminar, acclaimed immersive theater director and experience designer Zach Morris of Third Rail Projects will walk us through the elements of immersive gatherings and guide us through the process of designing our own. Drawing inspiration and practical points from past notable immersive events, we’ll delve into the details of creating such gatherings—focusing on environment, interaction, the experiential arc, and guest-centered design. Each week, Zach will offer optional exercises geared to help participants envision and develop their own concepts outside of class. This course is designed for everyone; whether you’d like to design a celebration or social event, create a memorable product launch or branded event, make a conference more engaging, or fold elements into a performance—this class will offer something meaningful for you and for those you're gathering. 

Syllabus at a Glance

This course includes four total sessions each lasting 1.5 hours.

Fall Session A: Meets Wednesdays beginning December 21, skipping December 28.

Session 1 (Wednesday, 12/21, 8:00–9:30 PM ET) | What’s an Immersive Experience, and What Makes It Meaningful? 

We’ll define immersive experiences and explore their attributes, taking a look at notable immersive events and beginning to think about audience-centered design.

-week off-

Session 2 (Wednesday, 1/4, 8:00–9:30 PM ET) | Exploring the Who and the Why

Who are the intended participants of your event? Why must they be there? What is the transformation you wish to create, and what are the steps leading to it? 

Session 3 (Wednesday, 1/11, 8:00–9:30 PM ET) | How Does This Manifest in a Meaningful, Guest-Centered Experience?

We'll delve into considerations of environment and  engagement. What do you need to do to make your guests feel comfortable and aware of what they're expected to do? How do you build a satisfying experiential arc? 

Session 4 (Wednesday, 1/18, 8:00–9:30 PM ET) | Tying it All Together: Making Your Roadmap

How do we translate all of the concepts we've been discussing into an actual, living, breathing project? We'll share what we've been working on with one another through a show and tell. There will also be time for a Q&A with Zach.

Winter Session A: Meets Thursdays beginning January 19, 2023.

Session 1 (Thursday, 1/19, 8:00–9:30 PM ET) | What’s an Immersive Experience, and What Makes It Meaningful?

We’ll define immersive experiences and explore their attributes, taking a look at notable immersive events and beginning to think about audience-centered design.

Session 2 (Thursday, 1/16, 8:00–9:30 PM ET) | Exploring the Who and the Why

Who are the intended participants of your event? Why must they be there? What is the transformation you wish to create, and what are the steps leading to it? 

Session 3 (Thursday, 2/2, 8:00–9:30 PM ET) | How Does This Manifest in a Meaningful, Guest-Centered Experience?

We'll delve into considerations of environment and  engagement. What do you need to do to make your guests feel comfortable and aware of what they're expected to do? How do you build a satisfying experiential arc? 

Session 4 (Thursday, 2/9, 8:00–9:30 PM ET) | Tying it All Together: Making Your Roadmap

How do we translate all of the concepts we've been discussing into an actual, living, breathing project? We'll share what we've been working on with one another through a show and tell. There will also be time for a Q&A with Zach.

Between Sessions

Outside of class, students will be given optional exercises to help guide them as they work on designing an immersive experience of their own.

Course Materials 

 No required materials, though bringing a pen and paper to class is encouraged! 

Pricing Options

In addition to full-price tickets, a limited number of no-pay spots are available for this course. Please note that these tickets are reserved for those who would not otherwise be able to take this course and who expect to attend all sessions. No-pay spots are distributed via a randomized drawing two weeks before each course begins. For more information and to apply for a no-pay spot, please click here. To learn more about our pricing model and randomized selection process for no-pay spots, please visit our FAQ page

Community Guidelines for Students

Please take a moment to review our community guidelines for students, which aim to share our classroom ethos and help set the stage for the best possible learning experience.

Atlas Obscura Online Courses

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Where We’ll Be

Once registered, you’ll receive a confirmation email from Eventbrite that will provide access to each class meeting. Please save the confirmation email as you’ll use it to access all sessions of your course via Zoom.

About Your Instructor
Zach Morris of Third Rail Projects
Zach Morris of Third Rail Projects

Zach Morris (he/him/his) is a director, choreographer, experience designer and Co-Director of the internationally acclaimed Third Rail Projects.  Zach is co-creator of the immersive theater hits Then She Fell, The Grand Paradise, Sweet & Lucky with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and Ghost Light at Lincoln Center Theater’s Claire Tow Theater, among others. Zach's work includes theater, dance, site-specific performance, VR, multimedia installation art/environments, and he is particularly interested in how these mediums can intersect with audience-centered experiential gatherings. Zach has been honored with numerous awards including a Chita Rivera award, two BESSIE awards, projects he has collaborated on have garnered a Drama Desk Nomination and an Emmy Award. His work has been presented nationally and internationally with the support of numerous grants, commissions, and residencies and he has had the pleasure of teaching, mentoring, and creating new platforms to support the work of artists both at home and abroad. Zach holds a BFA in Directing from Carnegie Mellon University.

What Else You Should Know

This is an interactive, small-group seminar that meets over Zoom. Students may be encouraged to participate in discussions, work on assignments outside of class, and workshop projects with their instructor or classmates. Due to the interactive nature of this course, we strongly recommend students attend as many live sessions as possible. Within 72 hours after each session meets, students will receive access to a recording of the live session, which they can watch for up to two weeks after the course concludes.


Instructors may use Google Classroom to communicate with students outside of class. While students aren’t required to use Google Classroom, instructors may use this platform to post resources, discussion questions, or assignments. This platform also offers a space for students to connect with one another about course material between sessions. 

We provide closed captioning for all of our courses and can share transcripts upon request. Please reach out to us at experiences@atlasobscura.com if you have any questions, requests, or accessibility needs.

Group Size

There are 33 spots available on this experience.

Dates and Availability
  • Wed, Dec 21, 2022
    8:00 p.m.–9:30 p.m.
    $215
  • Thu, Jan 19, 2023
    8:00 p.m.–9:30 p.m.
    $215
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