Daniel Thompson, 26 January 2013

Session created by Daniel Thompson.

We started off the session with myself (Dan Thompson) explaining the project that my

company, Block Stop, and I are currently developing. This is a project in which the

audience member spends the majority of the performance watching a monitor and

wearing head set technology, they are linked wirelessly to a live performer who is

wearing a spy camera and also wearing headset technology. The audience member is

able to see and hear everything the performer does from a first person perspective

whilst speaking with that character and guiding them through the narrative.

From this starting point we began to discuss particularly the use of technology within

performance. Can these styles of performance be gimmicky? Can the use of digital

technology within performance over-complicate things unnecessarily? In our project,

for example, why have we chosen to experiment with this and how are we going to

make it work?

We then had a lengthy discussion about the role of gaming (particularly video gaming).

We discussed ways in which gaming has been used within a performance context and

asked whether there is a meeting point between a (video) gaming experience and a

theatre experience. What might happen in that space? Is that interesting? Is that


We discussed how that, whilst there are differences between gaming and theatre,

there are also huge similarities. Particularly mentioned was the similarity in the

creation process, particularly in the designing of systems and rules. One of the

differences mentioned was that in video games you normally have options to pause

things, to rewind, to try things again if you didn't like the outcome; is there any space

for this within an interactive performance?

We then hit the question of ‘why’? Are these kinds of explorations meaningful and

what is the point? It was mentioned that within the framework of audience members

having an involvement with the performance it is perhaps better to invite meaningful

choices within a controlled system rather than to have open ended freedom of choices

which then become meaningless. It was also suggested that, within a narrative

structure, it would be important for the audience to care about the consequences of

their choices. On the question of meaning, however, one person mentioned that, as

this kind of work is still very new, the fact is that we might not fully understand yet what

kinds of thought and meaning it could provoke. We should view that as an important

part of experimentation and innovation rather than as a reason not to do it.

The issue of ‘liveness’ was a recurring one in our discussions. What is liveness? How

do we define it? Is it important? There are many examples of purely virtual

performances that can be accessed anywhere, yet there is something very special

about a shared ‘corporeal space’. What then happens when you bring theatre out of

the ‘corporeal space’? Is it still theatre? Is it still ‘live’? Conversely, what happens to

the ‘corporeal space’ when you bring digital technologies into it, which, exist, largely,

to connect people across different spaces? What happens when virtual and corporeal

spaces are brought together?

Interesting and relevant projects, events, artists and/or performances mentioned

included: Clairvoyance, Lundhal and Seitl, Geek 2014, Metis, Water Wheel, the

Science Museum's Google app, Ontroend Goed, Blast Theory, Punch Drunk's

collaboration with Hide and Seek, SecondLIVE, The Situation Room and Icing the



digital, interactive, games, Technology, Digital, Interactive, gaming, technology, virtual