What this blog is about

It's an art blog.
Mostly about theatre... but also a healthy dose of pop culture, politics and shameless self-promotion.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Twitter's Rotten Day

Facebook-esque problems plagues social network

No, I'm not tweeting yet. But I know that many other bloggers do... so I thought you'd all be interested in reading about this.

Did any of you notice the problem? What did you think?

Is Twitter getting too big or "corporate" now? Is going to start to decline in popularity like Facebook?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Gig for Christie Digital Inc.

Christie Digital: Unsilent Night 2008

Wanna come check it out?

So this weekend I'm doing a few days of rehearsals and a video shoot for that gig I told you about a while back.

I could tell you more details about the new technology that Christie is developing... but then I'd have to kill you.

Well, actually, I don't know much about it yet (I find out more tomorrow). Basically it's a new video display technology, and the piece involves combining canned video and live performance. I will have to sign a "non-disclosure" agreement tomorrow morning to protect Christie's product until they start showing it off in July. But I can tell you a bit more about who's involved in the project:

The show will be directed by George Brown, Head of the Theatre Arts Department at Bradley University, Peoria, IL., and the video assets used in the show will be shot by James Ferolo, Head of the Multimedia Department at Bradley University. We have two producers from the University of Waterloo: Professor Jill Tomasson-Goodwin is the Principal Investigator (research team leader)and Gerd Hauck, who I believe is the liason between the University and Christie. It stars me and Stephanie Breton (who I will meet tomorrow).

Assuming all goes well over the next four days, there will be 1 day of 4-6 fifteen-minute performances on July 6 at the Lower Ossington Theatre. The initial set of performances on July 6 will be presented to groups of invited theatre entrepreneurs, technicians, and investors. (Christie has expressed an interest in hiring the actors on an ongoing basis for 6-8 trade shows across North America starting September 2009, for dates yet to be determined.)

When I first mentioned this gig, MK left a comment about how to get in on checking out the performance. I asked Gerd about it, and he said: "I suggest you just invite your theatre artist friends to show up at the Lower Ossington on July 6th. I’ll make sure they get in."

So, if you're interested, send me an e-mail and I'll let Gerd know.


PS. The photo above is from one of Christie's more recent projects: Unsilent Night.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Thank you Praxis Theatre!

Praxis Theatre
Several days ago, I saw this post over at Praxis' blog.

As a result, this afternoon I'll be playing with some really cool Brits and some likeminded TO artists.

I've said before, and I'll say it again: Gawd, I love the webbernet.

Thanks again guys.

Monday, May 4, 2009

What to look at?

An example of video projection in a theatrical setting

Well, in a dance setting, to be more specific.

Over the weekend, my wife and I went to check out Danceworks at Harbourfront, to see a double bill: Accidents for Every Occasion and Mischance and Fair Fortune, choreographed by Jenn Goodwin and Susie Burpee (respectively).

It was a lovely evening, and we both really enjoyed two very strong pieces of indie dance.

What was particularly interesting to me was the contrast between the two works: Accidents was a multimedia piece that incorporated projections of pre-recorded video content, while Mischance incorporated more "back-to-basics" theatrical elements (like scrims and fake blood).

Accidents used different techniques to unify the film elements with the rest of the piece: abstract images, slow motion, projections of text that timed perfectly with moments of dialogue, etc. I felt that Goodwin was successful in marrying the different elements in the production. That being said, the video in Accidents still generated the same kind of anxiety that I've felt in every other multimedia theatre piece I've seen: that I'm going to miss something cool.

It's the anxiety of "where to look" that only video-in-theatre can produce. I believe that this is due to a combination of two elements: 1) the projections are usually placed above the performers so that they don't block the pictures, and 2) video/film projections capture your attention more easily than live performance.

This second element can be problematic in a forum where the live performances should be the audience's primary focus. Well... maybe "problematic" isn't quite the right word, but it definately has an alienation effect on the audience. It's hard to get lost in the action when you're constantly wondering where you should look.

Which is not necessarily a bad thing. It's a choice. And that choice was really highlighted for me when watching two different shows that explore similar themes, but use vastly different staging techniques.

And, of course, it brought be back to my project in which I've been planning to incorporate live-feed video projections... but now I'm wondering whether it's necessary.

See, I know I want to broadcast the performance on the internet (via streaming), and I want to have cameras incorporated into each and every scene - as part of the whole spectacle of "lives lived on Reality TV." But... I wonder: if that is the primary spectacle, then does having the added element of video projections add or detract from the experience?

Just because I can let the audience see the cameras' POVs, would they want to? What is the stronger choice?

I realize I'm jumping ahead of myself on this (thinking as a director/producer instead of a writer), but this does have an effect on the writing. If I want to leave myself the choice of whether or not to keep the projections, then I have to make sure that they are not integrated into the story. That the piece could be performed without projections and keep its integrity...

If anyone has any thoughts on this, I'd love to read them.