Mediated by technology

Earlier this year I went to two shows* that mediated the audience experience using technology. The first was an immersion thing where the audience were the performers and there was no audience except for the mildly puzzled people wandering back and forth to the bathrooms. (At least, that's what they did at Matterhorn where the play was staged.) In 'Etiquette' my friend and were given ipods and told to follow the instructions. (Hard to concentrate on that when we were also given plasticine, eyedropper, glass of water and tiny people to play with. Fun!) Our acquaintance had mostly been mediated through technology so the most difficult part of the whole experience for us was sustaining eye contact. It was short and it was a bit weird but I'd definitely go to the next one.
The second was more traditional in that I went to a theatre and there were paid performers. 'Love you approximately' is a devised show about a long-distance relationship between a woman in New Zealand and a man in Spain. I liked the idea behind it – unfortunately I think the execution of that idea could have used some work in set design (transparent cloth walls for screens were excellent but having the (solo) actress hidden behind the screens was not) and some stylistic choices (where were the self portraits from the funny angles because you're stretching your arm out to take them? Why were some video clips documentary style and others amateur video? JUST ANNOYING.) The man (on pre-recorded video) came across as warmer than the woman on stage and it wasn't until someone pointed out it that he was larger than she was (due to projection vs. real life size) that I clicked that maybe that was why.
I get to go to another show/experience facilitated by technology and presented by Downstage next month – 'Death and the dreamlife of elephants'. It's billed as "an experience across multiple platforms – on the streets of Wellington, on the radio, ??in a city-wide treasure hunt, and by delving into an interactive website." There will be some street happenings facilitated by social media. The website is just counting down at the moment so it looks as though something will happen around Easter. Keep your eyes peeled peeps!

I'm really liking the way that I'm being challenged as audience to reframe what I think of as performance. Very pleased that performance isn't always sitting there, quietly, in the dark, waiting to be entertained.

*N.B. I attended these shows courtesy of Downstage – for Season One I'm one of their Ambassadors which means that I get review tickets to all the shows. Thanks Downstage! *mwah*

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