October 20, 2020

Calling All Storytellers for “Pandemic Plays 2020”

by joeyphoenix

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by Joey Phoenix

The Ridiculous Project invites you to join in an evening of Virtual Storytelling with “Pandemic Plays 2020” On Thursday October 29, and Friday October 30th at 7PM. Written by the project’s founding Artistic Director and co-founder of Convergences Theatre Collective, Kate Kohler Amory (she/her), “Pandemic Plays 2020” explores with honesty and humor the layers of chaos that we have all collectively experienced over the last few months. 

“I think it’s [due to] the storytelling ability of humans, because we are gifted with imagination and memory, that we can actually transform forward out of crises,” said Amory. 

The eventual stage production will contain 12 stories in two acts, running chronologically from January into the Fall of 2020.

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The Expansive Reach of Digital Theatre 

For the event, audience members are invited to Zoom in and watch three excerpts of this in-progress play with fellow audience members. After the excerpts, audience members will have the opportunity to join small groups in breakout rooms to engage in a voluntary short story telling activity.

“There will be some pre-recorded content, live broadcast content, and audience participation – three things that virtual theatre is amazingly gifted at doing in an authentic way,” she said.

And while nothing can ever replace live theatre, what Amory and many of her peers are discovering is that virtual theatre is able to do things that live theatre just isn’t able to do. One the most obvious of these benefits is the reach, with thousands of people tuning in to performances that live theatre only had the capacity for hundreds, and for some venues, only dozens. 

To illustrate this, Amory pointed to the vast success of Igor Golyak’s Live Interactive Art Experiment State vs Natasha Banina from May of this year, which has now been watched by over 50,000 people worldwide since its release.

“[With the Pandemic Plays] I challenged myself to keep asking these questions of virtual theater: How can we do a thing that isn’t trying to be an imitation of live theatre? How can we do a thing that is authentic in its own manifestation and not a pale copy? 

From Physical Immersion to Transmedia Storytelling

Earlier this year, the collaborators of The Ridiculous Project met to start planning and writing their project for 2020. The theme was around climate change, told through the lens of Little Red Riding Hood. It was nebulous and wild and imagined meant to be hands-on, immersive, an experience that you would be able to see and smell and touch and then share with others. 

Unfortunately, this is not a year for sharing and touching and traditional immersive theatre. 

“There wasn’t a strong desire to pursue it in a digital realm,” said Kate Amory. “It felt actually anathema to the original idea of the piece, which was to be immersive, to connect with nature, to allow nature to be a part of this storytelling experience in order to prioritize what we might lose if we don’t, if we aren’t good stewards of our environment. And all of that suddenly felt to me personally. like a whiteboard being erased.” 

Because of the inability to effectively replicate the live experience, many theatre producers and writers and actors and performers and storytellers have taken to the virtual space. The trend has given birth to an entirely new kind of art form: Transmedia storytelling. And while there is currently no place for the interactive, immersive, hands-on theatre of the beforetimes, this new medium is finding its footing with digital experiences around the world. 

And recognizing this, Amory discovered that if the Ridiculous Project were to produce an experience this year, it would have to look a bit differently than they originally intended. 


A New Way to Tell Stories

This summer, Kate woke up at dawn every morning to write for three hours in an attempt to design an interactive experience which could not just work virtually, but also would encourage people to connect with strangers in an authentic way. 

Storytelling by its very nature is a tool for connection, and in an era where things are rapidly changing and crises are actively unfolding, stories are one of the ways that we can reconnect to our humanity and make sense of a chaotic world. 

“Over the past 20 years we’ve experienced the beginning of the digital revolution along with the massive impacts of climate change and globalization,” Amory said. “And I feel like we’re living in this profound moment of transition for humanity. 

“And so the stories need to get bigger and archetypal, like the archetypes of the individual need to start speaking a new story, a new hopeful story for humanity, and not just one of survival. We are a species that survives at all costs, like most organisms, but we’ve also been gifted with consciousness and imagination and memory, and choice.” 

And the ability to tell stories. 

Join The Ridiculous Project on Thursday, October 29th and Friday, October 30th at 7:00pm for “The Pandemic Plays 2020,” to enjoy stories told by others, and maybe share some of your own. 

Click here to get tickets and to learn more. 

Joey Phoenix (they/them) is an interdisciplinary artist and performer, the Managing Editor for Creative North Shore, The Digital Content Manager for North Shore Pride, the Host of The Chaos Within Podcast, and the co-founder of Moonrise Fae. Follow them on twitter @jphoenixmedia or email them story ideas or pictures of Bobtail Squid to joeyphoenix@creativecollectivema.com

Support Accessibility on the North Shore

Creative North Shore is having ongoing discussion of Accessibility and Disability Awareness leading up to the International Day of Disabled Persons on December 3 and the hopeful introduction of a Disability Parade in 2021. If this is a topic you are interested, have thoughtful story ideas, or know of an organization to add to the list below please reach out to joeyphoenix@creativecollectivema.com

Organizations to Support