Posts Tagged ‘Practice’
Premieres at Inbetween Time 2010 on the 2nd December. Preview/test in London 13th November, 2pm.
Is likely to be quite different to As if it were the last time, described as more J.G. Ballard. It would perhaps be interesting to participate in both the test and the finished event, to see how much changes and how different it is.
The Theatre Sandbox Showcase came out of a series of workshops, which around 275 people attended. From this, a competitive process selected six different project proposals to participate in the Theatre Sandbox, funded by the Arts Council and supported by Watershed, iShed, Pervasive Media Studio.
What’s really struck me is that Bristol really seems to be a centre for all things pervasive. I’ve yet to find another central point, or network hub, that has creative links as extensive as those of the Pervasive Media Studio or Watershed. London is just too big and disparate, and few other places are lucky enough to have the facilities, investment, and most importantly, people and ways of connecting through place. UWE are obviously a big part of this too, and play a major part in both attracting and keeping a creative technology community in Bristol.
Interesting thing that Melanie Wilson pointed out: Children aren’t amazed by technology. Grown-ups might think that pervasive media is really interesting, but the kids are only really interested in the unicorns.
The technology is just a tool.
Local children participated in the design of this theatre project, which took place both inside and outside of the theatre, in the local High Street. The children learn that a unicorn has been caught in a huge storm, accidentally transporting it to this world. The children create a narrative through a journey, the aim of which is to send the unicorn back home.
Melanie described the project as challenging, mainly owing to finding ways of making pervasive media technologies achieve the desired effects. Tom Melamed of Calvium collaborated with Melanie and Ed to create the narrative, where bits of story are triggered when a child steps into a WiFi or GPS point in a specific location. A combination of methods was used in order for the parts of the story, like an enormous shadowy projection of a unicorn on a wall, to trigger at exactly the right time. In order for the experience to be truly immersive, the children were given minimal equipment, just headphones. All content was broadcast from a laptop in order for this to work.
Mind the Gap/Contact Manchester/Phil Stenton, Calvium/Theatre Sandbox Advisor
This project used relatively simple technology to achieve its aims, but was incredibly effective. Mid the Gap is a theatre company that gives people with physical and mental disabilities a chance to perform.
The company, with Phil’s help, created a sonic maze using mediascapes. Using the space outside the theatre, groups of five people all had headphones attached to one iPaq. Moving awkwardly and hesitantly, they shuffled about the car park, following audio instructions to move around. For instance, a wrong turn might mean hitting a sonic ‘wall’, and the reactions of the participants to and observer to this is really very funny, as if they had hit a real wall. The real genius of this piece is the emphasis on collaboration according to strengths and weaknesses within the group. Certain obstacles were on the frequency of 15-16 Hz, which meant that anyone over 25 was unable to hear (also, as an aside, a nice two fingers to the idea of the persecution of the young from the Mosquito). Other parts of the Sonic Maze could only be accessed through a sonic loop, requiring a hearing aid user to solve that part of the problem.
Interestingly, the issues in production concerned creativity that came out of misunderstanding. Theatre producers misunderstood the technology, and therefore created things that required Phil to find creative ways of using the technology creatively to achieve these goals.
Give Me Back My Broken Night
Speakman ventures away from the purely audio experience to add a visual dimension to his work in collaboration with Univited Guests. Where UG had previously worked with the Soho Theatre, this was a new experience for Speakman, who finally feels now that perhaps he really definitely actually is a producer of theatre.
The experience is small and intimate, with only a few players participating at any one time. Players are called on their mobiles, and given instructions. They carry tiny projectors around their necks, which project a map of Soho onto a piece of paper in front of them. In a departure from previous works, Speakman and UG are looking towards the future, rather than the past in their urban imaginary, asking their players to imagine what might be on this building site in twenty years time. What would it look like? What else would be there? What has changed?
In response to their descriptions, an artist is listening in on these conversations, drawing according to the players’ ideas. What he draws is visible on the projected map as the player is speaking, a vision of the future city.
The challenges faced during this project were mainly technological. The map idea, according to Speakman, started as a mistaken belief that a very new, thin, flexible material could be experimented with. However, as this was only available to the military, the paper/projection method was suggested instead.
Theatre Sandbox is produced by iShed http://www.ished.net in collaboration with Bristol Old Vic http://www.bristololdvic.org.uk , Soho Theatre http://www.sohotheatre.com , Lyric, Hammersmith http://www.lyric.co.uk, mac http://macarts.co.uk, Contact http://www.contact-theatre.org and The Junction http://junction.co.uk. It is funded by the National Lottery, through Arts Council, England.
Duncan Speakman – subtlemob: as if it were the last time
Mapping Festival 2010
THE MEMORY DEALER
Start date: July 2010
Funding: Towards Pervasive Media, Nottingham University
Watch the trailer:
Synopsis of Second Iteration, (Sept. 11th 2010):
The story begins with the audience/players listening to an mp3 file as they meander where ever they like through the city. The voice and music are relaxing and somewhat hypnotic and they are encouraged to see the city anew and to explore their own memories of the places they pass through. They are told they are waiting to meet Eve, an engaging but unreliable friend with whom they have lost contact. They are told how they met and how they fell out. After a while the mood of the soundtrack becomes darker, they have wandered into an area frequented by memory dealers and those who have become addicted to their wares.
They receive a ‘call’ from Eve who tells them she has been arrested under trumped up charges. If they can find a memory dealer they will be able to experience what she did at the time of crime and prove her innocence. They are told to return to the Broadway bar, fins a memory dealer and be discrete.
They can only approach the dealer one at a time. While they wait they might notice that the radio show playing is a talk show dedicated to the subject of memory dealers. The show features a spokeswoman for the handset manufacturers who have developed handsets that can collect and store memories. They are pressing the Government to legalise memory aggregation. They wish to catalogue memories on search engines. Eve calls the show and defends a banned organisation called the XM who want to subvert the aggregation of memories by encouraging the sharing of memories.
The memory dealer is rude and surly. She gives each person a device that plays a sound file. She tells them to wait for Eve to appear, to only press play when she does and to follow her.
The audience/players follow Eve as she lives out the events of yesterday. They hear her memories on the soundtrack and discover that the reason she was an unreliable friend is because she was a founder of the XM. In a mixture pre-recorded and live performance they discover that the XM HQ has been evacuated and a police raid is imminent. Against all protocols she must remove a stash of memories from a safe house. She is hugely unsettled by these events. Finally she runs into a shop and runs out holding a bag. She runs back to the Broadway.
SPOILER ALERT. If you want to come on a future production of the Memory Dealer and don’t want to know how it ends. Stop reading now.
The audience/players return to the Broadway bar where a huge video is projected. Eve is in a police interview room. A detective is gloating over how easy it was to break her spirit and get her to hand over the names of the XM hierarchy. A dossier is brought in. Eve is told she can go. As she passes the camera she whispers a plea for forgiveness. She couldn’t hand in the XM. Run!
The detective reads out the names of the people to be arrested – they are the names of the audience/players. We then see the photos in the file. A secretly taken photo of every member of the audience.
The Detective enters the bar and shouts, “Right. Nobody leave the room.”
This drama is part of a research project into whether pervasive drama can be as emotionally engaging as drama that is shown on cinema or TV screens. When we are in a cinema we are free to emotionally engage as others cannot see our responses in the dark. We feel similarly safe to emotionally engage when we watch TV in our living rooms. The central research question, to be explored through making and performing a piece of pervasive drama then gathering responses from our audiences, is can creators of pervasive media expect high levels of emotional engagement from their audiences? Does the process of absorbing media in public places and in unusual ways reduce empathy and submission to emotive storytelling? Would an audience for a pervasive version of “Love Story” cry as much as a cinema audience might?
Research is being undertaken by Dr Elizabeth Evans, Lecturer in Film and Television Studies, Department of Culture, Media and Film, University of Nottingham.
The writing of pervasive drama is an iterative process. One needs to write and test, write and test. Rik Lander already has plans for the next iteration based on audience feedback from the second iteration.
1 x downloaded mp3 audio file played on audience/players own mp3 player.
1 x mp3 file provided on a player by a ‘memory dealer’.
1 x radio transmission played over the PA in the Broadway bar.
1 x video projected in Broadway bar.
1 x hidden camera – still images integrated into video.
Cast for second iteration, September 11th 2010:
Eve: Sylvia Robson
Memory Dealer: Lu Capewell
Detective Constable: Jonathan Greaves
Radio announcer: Cara Nolan
Host: Elizabeth Evans
Narrator: Rik Lander
With many thanks to the staff at the Broadway Media Centre.
Photographs by Bernard Zieja
Across the country, people are worrying about their high street. Shops have closed, sites bought for regeneration sit empty while recession-shy developers wait for the right time, and people spend more timeat out-of-town retail parks or buying online.
But these empty spaces in town centres are still useful. They’re perfect places for short, temporary projects that embrace the meanwhile – the time between the last commercial activity and whatever comes next.
And a nation of meanwhile shopkeepers have been learning the skills to use these spaces, to be nimble and grab every opportunity while they can.