At 15.30 GMT on April 24th 2015, Pursued by a Bear, courtesy of SHP LIVE, streamed The Lamellar Project (a work in progress) to a live online audience at the very same time that the work was showcasing, script in hand, to a live industry audience at South Hill Park, Bracknell.
This was a first for Pursued by a Bear but even more unique was that in the showcase we were working with an American based actor in Philadelphia (Emma Gibson from TINY DYNAMITE Theatre Company) who was performing with our live UK actor (Owen Oakeshott) on stage via a Facetime link, so she too was streamed on to the internet from the States. Pre-recorded footage was then cued into the scratch performance on stage and on line so the tech spec was complicated and technical producer Stephen Harrison had to keep a cool head to ensure it all ran smoothly. There were many processes occurring at the same time and it was interesting that what we ended up with was a distinctly different take on the live showcase experience itself. The same show but from two very different perspectives.
The Lamellar Project was envisaged as a ground breaking, trans-media project meaning that it’s intended aim is to eventually be able to work over as many platforms as possible. During this R and D period, we experimented with live performance, film, skype/facetime, additional websites and of course the live stream to tell the emerging story of two scientists, married but working in separate countries who communicate via skype about how best to care for their teenage son against a backdrop of a dramatically failing ecosystem which swiftly unravels mirroring the tragic demise of their marriage. The script is a richly poetic portrait of a future dystopic world – a cautionary tale of eco-failures and big business take overs with two empathetic but flawed characters at it’s heart. There’s also a cracking plot!
PBAB’s Associate Writer/Film Maker – Grant Watson has many more ideas for trans-media sequels – spiraling the story outwards to include teenage narratives around the son Ethan, his girlfriend and their life in the ‘Eco’ Resistance which may be told via mobile phone or film. He has also created a host of additional characters who work for the (fictional) American corporation – I Genis and a few of these characters appear on the fake website Grant has created. (We worked remotely with four American actors in a film studio in Philadelphia to create these additional narratives).
The Lamellar Project was the lucky recipient of an UPstream award (a project using funds and expertise from SHP Live and Greenhouse) plus Arts Council R and D funding which allowed for us to commission and develop the script then work over 9 days across 4 months with Martin Franklin and Stephen Harrison at SHP LIVE and our two actors to create the script in hand performance witnessed in the live showcase and the live stream to the internet.
We’ve really just dipped our toes in to this exciting new way to tell stories. “An electrifying performance” – Jon Pratty (Arts Council Digital). The live stream reached almost 200 people with just 20 odd seeing it live so there’s definitely a wider reach. Here’s some industry feedback filled in anonymously in response to the live showcase:
“chilling and prescient,”… “Enjoyed the characters and the story as well as the real transatlantic connection,”… “Great script,”… “Very powerful, full of imagined places and species – frightening!”… “Absolutely riveting,”… “The destruction of the personal relationship added a very powerful and dramatic element to the story,”… “Technically very smooth and I found the issues/subject matter incredibly current and easy to relate to, despite the scientific nature”… “The perfect story for a play via skype”… “thought provoking”… “Brilliant!”
It was interesting to see how the online story has the potential to augment the live show as a distinctive experience in its own right. There’s much more thinking to be done around creating and marketing work for an internet audience but this has been an inspiring experiment which we are now keen to build on.