Tag Archives: virtual performance

Dates for performance

22 Nov

I’m looking forward to the next step in building YOU ARE DEAD. YOU ARE HERE. with my collaborators Joseph Megel and Jared Mezzocchi. We’ll be putting up the first act of the show, with full media, at HERE’s CultureMart in January 24th and 25th, 8:30 p.m.–more on that soon. Here’s our teaser trailer:

New Teaser: You Are Dead. You Are Here. from JaredMezzocchi on Vimeo.

Meanwhile, check out media designer Jared’s work and process in his blog, where he writes about his recent design process on A Child Shall Lead Them: The Night of the Hunter.

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. Continue reading

Virtual Performance Factory, cont’d.

3 Aug

I am having the best time as a writer I’ve had for ages, figuring out the puzzle-ring that’s my part of the collaborative project, the Virtual Performance Factory. Curated and directed by Joseph Megel as part of the CHAT Festival (Collaborations in Art and Technology) at UNC Chapel Hill, we’re a team of writers creating “rooms” which combine live performance and virtual/ game elements. The game design will be created by Icarus, a Chapel Hill based video game production company.

The brief has challenged me to think about several things:
1. interactivity: how to make the experience something that involves the audience. As individuals? As a group? As fictions within the world of the performance?

2. use of media. My commonest complaint about often-dazzling new media work is the shallowness of content and “illustrative” functions of video, projection etc. So the question for me has been: what world am I making where these virtual elements are integral to the story?
As it turns out— a Limbo between live and virtual selves severed by traumatic memory in a returned veteran’s haunted Underpass.

As well as these wonderful formal challenges, given the sorry trajectory of Development Hell which most of us peon playwrights wade through en route to production, it’s also been a great joy to write something that I KNOW will be designed and produced. I write something and people talk about how to make it happen on screen, in the room… It’s like hearing music aloud again after hours of silently looking at dots on a stave.

Projects — UNC Institute for the Arts and Humanities

6 May

Projects — UNC Institute for the Arts and Humanities.

So, this is what I’ll be up to for the next month or so as one of the writers of the Virtual Performance Factory.  I’m fascinated to be learning about these new modes of writing/ designing.

I’ve been thinking lately about the need to find other paths through my life as a playwright.  The regional model is timid and broken; it’s about product and (as Morgan Jeness puts it) serving the oligarchy.  And frankly, my plays are not going to function well as “product” in those contexts.  In one of the most thoughtful reviews of Trojan Barbie, the writer said “The playwright is not interested in our comfort, though there are many entertaining moments in her writing. Instead, she asks that we consider the suffering of people we do not know in lands we may never visit. ”

And that is true, but it doesn’t mean I want to insult or alienate an audience.  I want them to come with me in looking at something painful, but in a form that’s beautiful and compelling so that we can bear to do it.  I think a feeling of truth in art, and moments of beauty (formal or thematic) are rare joys and the pathways to these experiences for audiences are systematically blocked through lack of arts education, a frantically materialist culture, and the deeply patronizing view that audiences aren’t up to–nor up for– complex, intense, problem-posing art.

However, as Spencer Golub has said repeatedly, it’s all in the frame.  Perhaps it’s just that they(we) are not up for being sat in rows and made to look at the same thing together any more.  The blackboard, the stage, the monument… there’s something about those forms that seems to recede into the 20th century already.

The question, then: what IS the relationship (or array of possible relationships) between work made for performance and its audience?  Maybe it’s fractal rather than perspectival now.  The relationship of a physically unified audience to a singular spectacle on a proscenium stage dates to Renaissance discoveries in painting, and is organized around the God-king’s eye.  Now we are all tiny gods with our insect-eye computers and iPhones, and perspective is multiple and dispersed, although still very much formed in and by a field of power relations.   This new connectivity is both too intimate and too fractal for the stage.  Yet there’s something about bodily presence that I still believe we crave–it’s telling that isolation is the least bearable of stresses in captivity.

So that’s what I want to figure out. How to write supple, intimate, fractal performance texts that have form and shape but function as strands in a web of dialogue with an audience.   Preferably by June.  Any clues, post ’em here!  And I’ll write more about the VPF as it unfolds.

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. Continue reading