Welcome to the immersive
theatre online seeking engagement
from global audiences. Following
Patrik Lonergan’s concept that
"Social media is a space for
a performance of identities"
(Lonergan, 2016, p.3) we are
using Instagram, Skype, and
WIX as our stage.
There is an alternative world behind the closed doors.
The doors are not closed because people want to be alone.
They are not closed because of the lack of space.
They are closed because the space behind them has changed.
The world has changed, and we had to change with it.
The world has placed us thousands of miles apart.
The world has tried everything to disconnect us.
That connection is not perfect.
That communication is exhausting.
But these barriers didn't stop us.
We moved Immersive theatre into the digital space.
Our audience is watching us through the screens of their phones and
With us they can feel the isolation that we experience.
Because what is not exhausted is art.
Art is always there for us.
Even if Art gets tired,
it embraces and supports us when our bones are too heavy.
Just like birds must sing, art must be shown.
In every circumstance.
We are a Soleca Theatro company and we want the world to hear that song.
WHO ARE WE?
Our piece responds to the global lockdown and explores the topic of isolation with tools taken from immersive, realist, and digital theatre. The questions we want to ask are: ” How can we use Immersive Theatre to explore the theme of isolation?” and sub-question:´´ How can we create Immersive theatre using digital tools?” While in confinement, the only connection available is through technology. Following Patrik Lonergan's concept that "Social media is a space for a performance of identities" (Lonergan 2016, p.3) we are using Instagram as our stage.As we’re basing our performance in the digital network, the immersion of the audience will also become digital. One of our digital tools is the Glitch Art, outlined by Rosa Menkman. Glitching reminds us that technology is an artificial connection, therefore, it exposes the solitude in which we find ourselves.
In Immersive theatre, the actor becomes a host of the performance who transforms the audience into guests or partly actors of the performance along with them. Drawing upon the definition of immersive theatre from Josephine Machon’s book “Immersive theatre [...] marks a piece of theatre experienced from within rather than as an outside observer […] You are part of it, rather than looking fundamentally distinct. (Trueman, 2011: n.pag., emphasis added)" (J. Machon) It becomes clear that for a performance to be immersive, the audience’s involvement in the story and the act is essential.
To make the audience feel involved, the Glitch art works as a double-immersive tool. Firstly it brings awareness that they are connected through technology, as “Technologies in immersive practice are used with dexterity to ignite the imagination; to offer clues and set experiences in place;“(Machon, 2013). To reach that awareness we use technical glitches,thus the audience is immersed in the feeling of isolation with our characters. Secondly, it works as an Immersive tool since we use it to enhance the character’s respective natural environment. Initially, the way we used glitch was mostly visual, however, inspired by glitches happening in our video calls we wanted to emphasise the sounds of nature and environment that surrounded us thus making the audience experience the same atmosphere of the environment in which our characters were situated, being this a “natural landscape is the site, the climate and elemental forces come into play and are key features that inspire the sensual response of the audience.” (Machon, 2013) The glitch effect is created by voice and it is distorted with exaggeration to highlight the problems in the communication.
Another key part of our performance is the relatability, by “acknowledging how everyday technology use can serve to distance human interaction and destroy a sense of personal connection, Mercuriali argues that immersive practice can employ technology to return the user ‘to the personal relationship that is much more precious than anything’(Machon, 2015). This relationship is enforced by the actors, using Instagram as the audience does.
Thanks to the tools of Instagram, the audience can interact with us, comment on our posts, reply to our stories, and text us. The tools accessible to the actors are also accessible to the audience.
These tools of an interactive nature which are called stickers are polls that you can upload to your story, question boxes, or the “live stories”. We wanted the audience to have these same tools, we ensure “Enables agency for the audience-participant within the work.” (Machon, 2013).
When we decided to allow the audience to contact the characters and for the characters to acknowledge their presence the “audience-participants become 'co-authors' of the work, using their bodies as the source and site of sensual material for the narrative. [...] immersive practice requires risk and investment from audience-participants and complicity between these 'guest-performers'.” (Machon, 2013. pg.150) They become co-authors since they can change the course of the plot. As an example, if an audience member shares one of the many secrets with a character, that could be a turning point in the script. The fact that we decided to apply the literary tool of dramatic irony, “a literary device by which the audience’s or reader’s understanding of events or individuals in a work surpasses that of its characters” (Britanicca, 2020), in our performance, allows the audience to have a bigger impact in it.
Becoming part of the performance from the audience perspective can be done in an active or a passive way since a piece of advice to a character or an interaction can change the storyline. If the audience chooses to be active and become involved in the performance since the “Audiences are given the autonomy to create their own journey, no two audience members' experiences will be alike” (Duncan and Higgin, 2020, pg. 7) (Punchdrunk). They know the secrets that the characters are hiding, thus they have the power to reveal it, by telling other characters and changing the flow of the storyline. If they choose to be a passive audience member, then they are immersed but not involved, without interacting with the characters.
Our intended outcome is to successfully answer the question How can we use Immersive Theatre to explore the theme of isolation? We made a connection between the characters and the audience where the actors in confinement performed the isolation. We achieved this using the digital tools of Instagram and applying the findings of our research on immersive theatre with Josephine Machon as our main inspiration.
MEET OUR CHARACTERS
Lonergan, Patrick. Theatre & Social Media. Palgrave, 2016.
Machon, J., 2013. Immersive Theatres.p.97.
Machon, J., 2013. Immersive Theatres.p.94.
Machon, J., 2013. Immersive Theatres. pg.150
Duncan, F. and Higgin, P., 2020. [online] Punchdrunk.org.uk. Available at: <https://www.punchdrunk.org.uk/content/uploads/2019/10/Punchdrunk-Teacher-Resource-Pack-v7.pdf?
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Immersive Theatres (p. 75). Macmillan Education UK. Kindle Edition.
Encyclopedia Britannica. 2020. Dramatic Irony | Definition & Examples. [online]
Available at: <https://www.britannica.com/art/dramatic-irony#info-article-history> [Accessed 29 May 2020].