Update on CHAT festival

7 Jan

The time’s approaching for the CHAT festival at UNC Chapel Hill. It’s been so much fun to write for this event, as part of the Virtual Performance Factory.. Like many playwrights, I’m well acquainted with “development hell” and this gig, by contrast, has always involved a guarantee that the thing will be taken into full production—in collaboration with Icarus, a commercial video game company (Fallen Earth producers).

The brief? To write a short script for live performance with audience interaction (no, Mildred, not the dreaded “audience participation” where people are hauled on stage before the rest of a seated audience for ritual humiliation–but a way of scripting for an interactive space where the audience become a part of the event). Also to include: virtual and video-game elements, which are being designed and produced by Icarus.

My piece involves a head-injured soldier who lives in a cardboard-box homeless village under a freeway, but steps through the “doors” of memory into another world–the world of remembered war-fare, modeled on an action video game. The “goal” is a bit different than the usual video war-game objective though–he has to recover the fractured pieces of himself left behind on the battlefield (and severed from memory by a head injury), and deal with the aftermath. It’s loosely based on the myth of Herakles, who in a moment of god-struck madness, killed his own wife and children–and then had to fulfill 12 seemingly impossible labors as penance.

We’re at the stage where I’m seeing storyboard drafts of the animation aspects of my script from the Icarus designers, which is incredibly exciting. The Festival (Collaborations in Humanities and Technology) goes up in mid February, and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot about what does (and doesn’t) work in writing for interactive media in live performance.

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