Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Interactive Theatre

Remember the old "choose your ending" books. You be reading along and then you would face a fork in the road and it was up to you the reader to pick your character's next move. If you want to go right turn to page 93 but if you want to go left go to page 67. These books would be remarkably fun on the internet. After reading a section, you simply click on the appropriate link for the action you want to happen next and your browser will take you there. You could even do this with audio, video, or animation.

Does theatre have a format where you the audience can affect the plot or choose action?

The easiest answer is sketch comedy. Everyone knows this: quick give me a genre, a 60's rock band, and an adjective and we will make up a scene on the spot. Generally works pretty well for about five minutes. Entertaining, yes, but generally lacking in deeper meaning. And we all know that theatre is not always about deeper meaning. But is there a way to make a truly affecting performance where the audience has some control? There are murder mysteries such as Shear Madness and Drood are fully developed scripts that have alternate ending that the audience will vote on and then the actors enact. But this still doesn't get at the root of the matter.

Is there a way for theatre to be controllable by its consumers? To make the experience interactive while still having the sweeping scope of insight? How can theatre use new technology to help accomplish this? And the biggest question, is this actually desirable?

Happy Birthday: Warwick Davis (b. 1970), Nathan Lane (1956), & Sarah Kane (1971-1999)

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