Welcome to Re/Play
What makes a play a play? This is the question I asked my collaborators Blake Addyson, Wendy Mitchell, and Gricelda Silva. We came up with three key aspects to explore, and what could be the very definitions of these things in a world of multi plate form storytelling:
Time Action Audience
In looking at the definition of “things” Mitchell commented that she doesn’t care for games as we discussed play, but I offered a rebuttal that she plays volleyball and ping-pong (she is rather good at both but I allow her to win in each ping-pong contest we have had because I’m a nice guy), yet Mitchell claimed those are sports. The ideas began to percolate on what is interaction, what is play, and how do we define this in a time with so many options of not only amusement, but escape, storytelling, and even pretending. How do we imagine ourselves in time, and action, and who might be our own audience. How and why do we pretend?
What are definitions, language, and communication? What is the difference between hearing and listening in time, action, and as an audience in a world now dominated by smart phones, texting, swiping left on dating websites, and watching Netflix when we choose (I’ll finish “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” when I can)? What makes a play immediate? What makes a game not a sport? This is what we wish to explore with Re/Play:
Could we design a game to beta test at SXSW? Perhaps something we could take to various places among the crowds of SXSW and observe how the audience of the game uses the action of this game in real time? The concept of using SXSW is to have a large international sample to observe, not just our friends in Austin, our home base. This will also help our team develop a line of collaborative dialogue and a common starting point on the project as opposed to subdivision of roles (playwright writes and gives to a direct, who gives to actors, and on.) We will make game kits (street chalk, string, and so on.) and have the players draw three “action” cards a master deck of storytelling cards. The audience has ten minutes to build a story, plot, and character, mapped with a journey on action interpretation. We will beta test this at SXSW, then take a stronger versions of our game to the Come Out and Play Festivals in San Francisco, New York, and Pittsburgh.
We take everything the “audience” does (our data) and put it on a collaborative blogging plate form (again, welcome). We invite the audience to watch the blog across “time” as we edit and shape these short plays. The blog will also serve as a way to share other ideas as they develop. We then use this blog to openly write and rewrite a larger story once a week, with new notes, new research, new data, and new ideas, and so on. Braun and Mitchell will write some scenes together, some scenes separately, Silva and Addysion will add when and what they can, like a controlled exquisite corpse until we have a fully realized story, a world to rehearse and present. So, the audience watches us from afar and has some participation before they see the play, or none, depending on how they want to proceed. In this we would need a constant, an anchor to keep us from floating away and for the audience to come back to. That constant is Silva, The Austin Chronicle’s actor of the year. The play will be character centric at its core, with the worlds the audience (the gamers) has developed as our detail. Silva is our Alice as the audience builds wonderland around here, as Mitchell and myself edit and rewrite that world, and Addyson constructs the physicality of this place. Thus, the game is an organic play.
Once ready with the story, the play that we feel right about, we have rehearsals, a full design and production team with other collaborators. We produce play, or modules and scenes of the over all story, in theaters and site-specific places that developed our data. And then we do it, again, and again, and again. I’d write more, but I have to pretend I allow Mitchell to beat me in ping-pong.
This is Re/Play.