New Video / Concept Development

The big learning from presenting my intervention today, was that the common thread of feedback, from press to stakeholders to facebook advert performance, was that the concept is somewhat confusing / complex.

In bearing this in mind for the next iteration, my second event seeks to marry music and storytelling in a simpler, more natural way. With that in mind, here is one of the videos for the second event. Messaging of an elaborate story will be on the website, but the advertising needs to be punchy and clear from the start.

 

In addition, a conversation with an observer led me to articulate the downside of advertising this concept – the people like Kanye’s music but dislike his involvement of politics. My plan for this, is that the website will have 3 options for bespoke ticket links ‘Vote Michelle’, Vote Trump’ and ‘Vote Kanye’. Each is a link to a ticket, to give agency to the audience, as well as taking out the concept of having to have a political view to enjoy the party.

Monday Tutorial

 

On Monday we had a tutorial on final project questions and their development using research and critical thinking.

I thought it was an excellent lecture, and all the more instructive because examples were given. Case studies with examples are so useful, and other students remarked similar sentiments.

I also thought that the course got to see the tutors in a different (and positive) light. It was a real shame that the tutors weren’t all giving lessons in the early part of the course in my opinion.

With regard to my own question, I have spent the last couple of weeks attacking the practicalities of my interventions. I feel that perhaps my question may develop as I spend the next month delving back into the theory / literature on immersive theatre.

So many of the books I have been reading for leisure (outside of my field of research) are related to the general idea of ‘doing’ being superior to untestable academic theory – an idea crystallised by Nassim Taleb’s ‘Skin In The Game’ which I recently revisited. My gut feeling is that this could be the direction of my academic research. The next post will expand on this.

Updated ‘Script’ Audience Journey

 

I’ve changed the script a lot. I wanted to simplify it, and make the issues more ‘localised’ to the ship rather than big picture – seems more believable and would likely seem to matter more to those present. The new one requires less acting and more action, which is something I got from visiting some immersive events – the acted scenes seem a little staged and separate. It is unfinished and questions still yet to be answered are at the bottom.

 

Escape To Atlantis To Interzone Audience Journey

 

  1. Pre-event video

 

The week of the event, audience members will receive a video by email, introducing them to the 2 person crew who will be taking them to Mars. It will establish the basics of the story – that they are going to Mars, that there will be a party after takeoff; after which they will go into deep sleep once the moon has been passed (this is important to the story later). It will establish that the ship is being flown by ‘Mothership’, an artificial intelligence designed by Space X.

 

They will also be asked about people that say a corporation shouldn’t colonise a planet, and that it should be for anyone – blithe reply from the captain, like ‘The thing about anarchists is, they aren’t organised to be build spaceships and colonise planets’.

 

It will also be used to establish empathy with the characters, as well as trying to make the story light-hearted / entertaining.

 

2. Entrance

 

As people enter the building they will be given a glow stick, and told it is their emergency light “for emergencies only”.

 

  3. Processing

 

Music playing in room 2 is Starman by David Bowie, on repeat. People arrive in room 2 and enter queues for processing their Mars citizenship. They are asked for invasive personal data, and anyone (likely everyone) who refuses is told that they therefore are only give ‘half citizenship’ on Mars, with no voting rights. Neon paint is put on their face across the eyes to mark them as half citizens.

 

Actors processing look like ‘Nu Rave Air Hostesses’.

 

Anyone who refuses both the data and the neon paint is separated and taken elsewhere for a unique experience. I am thinking of two potential ideas for this.

A) A photobooth-type contraption where they are made to go have their picture taken for ‘incarceration on Mars’, but with a secret hole that leads to the dressing room. In which they are recruited by anarchists onboard who want to get off on the moon, and leave both earth and big corporations / data sharing etc behind. Our lead anarchist can give them booze from a hip flask, and give them a secret marking of some sort. Something that gets the initial skeptics more engaged / excited for the night ahead.

B) Taken to the canteen and recruited for the secret police on Mars. Given drinks tokens / cocktail to drink.

4. Main Room

 

The main room has a large screen at the front showing space, with a small square in the corner showing ‘the cockpit’, with the 2 crew working away. Music playing is The Strokes / The Libertines etc – the indie music scene pre-Nu Rave. In the centre of the room is a large object that will represent the ‘Grimes’ the spaceship’s personality, and will also be the focal point of the dancefloor. This needs to look impressive and have the effect of a disco ball or other dance floor lighting effect, whilst being ‘in character’ for a spaceship. It should have a top part that is a lighting feature, and a bottom part which can later be ‘destroyed’ by the anarchists.

 

  4b. Smoking Area

 

People who want to go outside to smoke are given something to block noise / obscure vision (helmet . headphones?). Possibly google cardboard with this app –

 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.visor.visionhacker

 

This means people will see whatever effect is added, which would be a great experience. I am further exploring the use of ‘Artivive’, which converts innocuous real live logos into videos via google cardboard – as a way of getting subliminal messages over to the audience.

5. First Video Address

 

(Screen becomes full screen of cockpit, music stops playing)

 

Captain: Welcome aboard BFR206 to Mars, we hope you had a pleasant journey so far, and you got to say goodbye for the last time to everyone you ever met or knew. I’m your captain today, if by captain you mean the guy sat in a room watching the computer fly the ship.

 

Co-pilot: Good evening, I’m co-pilot Ella Loveday. Firstly I must apologise for the music, the ship computer, Grimes, appears to have a slight glitch, nothing to worry about, we assume there will be an update from ground control soon.

 

Captain: Yes, they infallible ship computer is playing the music from another ship, so maybe it’s not so perfect. I’d like to override and change it, and then I could actually fly us to at least the moon, but then i’d be the first unemployed person on Mars.

 

Co-Pilot: Anyway, enjoy the journey, we’ll get it fixed.

 

6. Problems

 

  • Actors are now rebels trying to recruit you, or ‘security’ trying to arrest rebels. This happens upstairs, in toilets, in smoking area.
  • Adventures are created for small groups. Taken to little restaurant room to recruit. Scenes / fights between security & rebels.

7. Second Video Address

 

Captain: Ladies and gentlemen, like you, we are hearing rumours of ships being lost, but ground control is currently telling us nothing. We are in contact with some other ships, we are hearing about bugs onboard mothership. I can confirm that at least one other ship has shut down mothership and switched to manual. There is nothing in reports that this is anarchists hoping to go to moonbase, I can assure you that it is all just rumours. Our own position is to just trust the system, trust ground control, all will be okay.

 

Co-pilot: We could go to manual to be safe, reset the system, at the very least the music would reset

 

Captain: Screw the music, we have procedures to follow

 

8. Raised tension

 

  • Music cuts out, alarm / siren goes off, ship voice says ‘emergency, emergency’ repeatedly for 30 seconds.

 

  • Rebel tries to smash computer in main room. Chased off. Gets on megaphone and says computer is going to run our lives in Mars, we must go to the Moon and be free.

9. Final Video Address

 

  • Pilot tries to reboot. Computer says no. Tries to override and is electric shocked by computer.

 

*****FIGHT SCENE WHILST PILOTS LOOKS ON***COMPUTER IS SMASHED*****

 

Co-pilot – We are going to reset everything and i’m going to fly it. If this works you’ll know about it. If it doesn’t work, well, I guess you’ll know about that too. Better turn on those emergency lights.

 

10. FINALE – 11.30PM

 

  • Silence. Pitch Black.1 full minute. Screen is just space.

 

10. The Dance

On comes Klaxons – Atlantis To Interzone. Whole place erupts (hopefully).

90 minutes of bangers. Throughout this the screen shows space, slowly getting closer to the moon. By 1am we ‘land’ on the moon. At which point all anarchists come out to party, with confetti, glitter etc. Perhaps a slogan about a free world.

 

QUESTIONS

 

  • HOW DO I GET AUDIENCE TO HAVE A CHOICE? WHAT SEEMINGLY CONSEQUENTIAL ACTION CAN THEY TAKE? IS IT TO ‘BECOME AN ANARCHIST’?

 

  • HOW DO I GET THE AUDIENCE TO DECIDE THAT THE CORPORATION IS BAD AND THEY ARE WITH THE REBELS? TO HATE THE COMPUTER?

 

  • THE ‘ANARCHISTS’ NEED A WAY TO DISTINGUISH THEMSELVES THAT ALLOWS PUNTERS TO CONVERT AND ALSO BECOME ONE. THIS SHOULD TIE WITH THE NU RAVE AESTHETIC – SMILEY ‘RAVE ‘FACES?

 

 

 

New Video

 

I created a new video with more overt music references in light of the results of my various facebook adverts being favourable to the music over the concept or story.

I am starting to run adverts on facebook to see how it performs.

Augmented Reality

My original plan for my ‘dream project question’ attempted to incorporate Augmented / Virtual Reality into immersive theatre & night life. I eventually rejected this as it appeared clunky and overcomplicated for an academic study. However, in my ongoing re-write of the audience journey for my first event, I am incorporating some AR into the production.

The smoking area is a significant problem in maintaining the illusion of being on a spaceship, especially as it is out of the front of the venue on a busy street. One solution was to make people wear makes / ear defenders and make it part of the story, at least to dull the senses whilst outside. Another I am exploring is to use google cardboard (a cheap device which turns ones phone into an AR headset, and this app –

Both require some work to be practical for this first event.

 

Production Team

I am poor at practical / making of things, and so have been trying to plug that gap in my knowledge. I started with posters around university.

This garnered just three responses, of which two were dead ends. I spoke to the head of MA Theatre design, and this was also a dead end as he was reluctant to expose his students to something he knew little about.

Upon advice from David (my tutor) I re-wrote my brief based, consulting a template of an ethical risk assessment – and having met the head of BA Theatre Design and BA Product Design have had far more positive results; in addition my new pitch changed the mind of the head of MA Theatre Design. Fred from BA Theatre Design has said that working on my event can count towards their own projects as coursework, and all three course leaders have emailed all their students.

I have received over a dozen responses in 24 hours, and am now meeting with each individually. I feel confident on the set design aspect now, and must turn back to completing the revised script, filming a script read-through and sourcing actors / extras.

Fight Scene

I am re-writing the script, and realised something. The story is that of the ship failing, and essentially is one of turmoil. This is a serious thing to supposedly be happening, and whilst it is clearly make-believe to the audience, if it is done well there is unlikely to be a jovial atmosphere conducive to dancing.

When I attended ‘Feasty Blinders’, the scripted parts were broken up by a live band and 2 burlesque dancing performances. These were good because they provided early entertainment before people were ready to get up and dance, they stopped all the ‘immersion’ from being scripted (and therefore didn’t interrupt people’s eating and conversations), and most importantly, they fit within the narrative.

My idea to achieve this, is to have a ‘fight’ between a ‘rebel’ and a ‘Space X Security’ as the rebel attempts to destroy the mothership console in the main room. This could be heavily choreographed and performed by 2 experts (ninjas), and they can fight with sticks made to look like some sort of ‘light sabre’. My idea is to have security ‘fight’ an obvious actor / member of the rebellion, quickly vanquish him before his stick is picked up by what looks like a member of the public (but is actually our hired ninja). They then have an elaborate and entertaining fight with acrobatics etc.

This should provide a surprising and entertaining finale before the video ‘finale’ in which the music becomes ‘Nu Rave’.

This sounds like a small detail but I think it could be the main talking point after the event, and a clear differentiation from a normal club night.

 

Production

I’m currently trying to plug a big gap in my knowledge, and that is the production side of immersive events – set design / build, actors etc – and trying to do a compelling event on a shoestring budget. To that end, I went to the Product Design St Martins department on Friday, and spoke to the tutors to enlist some help: 

More importantly, I arranged a meeting with Kathryn Mcgarr.

Kathryn is an actress who worked on Punchdrunk (the leading immersive theatre company) from their inception, and has acted / written and helped produce for Punchdrunk, Secret Cinema and many smaller productions. She was immensely helpful in advising me on both specifics and general rules of play for immersive events. For example, she recommended that I have a ‘lead’ actor on the day to knot the story together and create a focal point for the event. She was very positive about the idea of ‘funnelling’ I discussed in a previous post, and partially allayed my fears about not having the resources for a good enough build (stating that the story can carry the believability). She was strongly in favour of making a short film to send out in advance to establish characters with the audience.

She recommended that I use actors for the filmed section of my story that will be available on the night. I will not do this, as I deliberately want to separate them. I want the events to be scaleable and replicable over other cities, and so the story is deliberately set up to use high quality actors on film and ‘extras’ within the event itself – this is key to the business model (with the possible caveat of a ‘lead’ actor being added).