Cartoon avatars in a group.

helen varley jamieson (initiator, concept),  vicki smith [graphics and story], paolo grippa [Story and proximal performance], & collaborators/performers angela main , karla ptacek, leena saarinen, desktop theatre (& a few other remote people who popped in at different times).

2 hours (it was performed twice, on 16th & 18th, with a discussion afterwards – so approx 2 hours each day)

Time Frame
six months or more – we started working mid-2001

Key Locations
wellington nz (where helen, paolo & vicki were based, & where the performances & discussions took place at BATS theatre); other locations were auckland nz, london uk & helsinki finland. remote participants from the usa & europe joined in at times during the process.

the palace (an online graphical chat application) was the main cyber stage, & this was used in conjunction with the physical space in BATS theatre. web cams & iVisit audio-visual conferencing platform were used in rehearsals & for cueuing. at the time (early 2002) BATS theatre only had a dial-up internet connection in the office, so we had to pull strings to negotiate an affordable short-term broadband connection from telecom, & run great long ethernet cables from the office to the auditorium & backstage.

this project was an experiment in using the internet to bring remote performers into a theatre performance – not with web cams but using a graphical chat room & cartoonesque avatars. we researched, rehearsed & experimented over a period of about 6 months or more. initially, following a call to various email lists, there were about 16 people involved, but this came down to the core 6 (plus a few others) due to time zone issues, other commitments, etc.

the performance itself featured frenzy the clown [Paolo], who performs his famous trick of diving into a glass of water – but one day he dives right in & finds himself in cyberspace, being watched by an audience of avatars. the avatars show him around cyberspace & in return he teaches them his trick. this little story was used as a way to demonstrate what we were experimenting with – the interaction between avatars & performers, & the intersection of theatre & cyberspace. after each of the 2 performances at BATS we had a discussion, for which most of the audience remained. these discussions were videoed so i guess i have that documentation … somewhere …

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