Virtual performance factory

27 Apr

Have just started work as a writer in a team building a virtual performance environment, as part of the Collaborations: Humanities, Arts & Technology (CHAT) Festival at UNC. We’re working with a game company (Icarus) in North Carolina to create a live/ virtual performance, where the writers create “rooms” with story-lines, avatars, etc. for a live audience to walk through. I’m very excited about this commission which mixes dramatic writing skills with learning a whole lot about game theory and structure. I love the challenge to place the audience as a “player” and to build multiple possible pathways through the room/ story/ game. It will also be interesting to see how the team of writers can create connections between the different rooms/ stories.

I’ve been thinking lately about the need to expand theatrical practice and theory to new audiences and media. In a way, the “virtual/ live” divide is already a false one, since our everyday Western lives are completely entwined with both elements. Physical presence doesn’t preclude virtual elements. Kids don’t even find the distinction meaningful—as I saw vividly when my stepson was playing in an outdoor playground. He was chatting to himself and setting up an imaginary space inside the real playground which operated as a video game that he controlled through an invisible hand-held interface. Maybe our virtual performance factory will simply turn out to be a clumsy attempt to catch up with pre-teen consciousness.

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