Theatre in the Cloud
A new project initiated by Kent-based company, futuredream, is about to change the way audiences experience theatre. Theatre in the Cloud is exploring whether theatre can be presented online, instead of in a building. The project is asking theatre-makers to think about creating characters and stories specifically for both social media and the web.
Five performance companies – each with a wide variety of approaches – have been awarded bursaries to experiment with the concept, and most importantly, see what audiences think.
During this April’s Wise Words Festival, Canterbury’s Workers of Art will use social media platforms as a mechanism for the audience to make friends with, or join the cause of, four characters from Shakespeare’s The Tempest – Ariel, Miranda, Prospero and Caliban. Each character will live in the heart of Canterbury for four weeks between 10th March – 5th April, as well as having a very active online presence.
Audiences will be able to watch and interact with the characters and their stories as they evolve, and will eventually be able to meet them at an installation-style event in Canterbury.
“The playful, live and immediate interaction with the audience that social media allows demands agility, confidence and an ability to be totally responsive,” says Workers of Art director, Beth Cuenco.
“Until we see what the audience and ourselves begin to create together we won’t know what we are creating. This unknown, coupled with the fact that we will be using the internet as our stage, makes this project both exciting and also terrifying!”
Windswept Productions is a national touring company interested in creating theatre that provokes, challenges and makes you laugh out loud with wicked wit and incisive observation. Their first highly successful production was Murray Lachlan Young’s The Incomers.
The Theatre in the Cloud bursary will support the company’s commission of a digital writer to develop/curate and/or write an anti-play to their new production, Glamping. The anti-play will exist entirely online in a form or forms defined by its writer/curator, whilst Glamping (written by Murray Lachlan Young) will be a verse play for theatres.
Young people from Dover Youth Theatre have also been awarded a bursary to help them devise their own online theatre story. They will share ideas on the plot and characters through a blog, use Pinterest to imagine how the costumes and set might look, and make a short YouTube film of the whole project.
Based in Yorkshire but working nationally since 1996, Assault Events is a creative arts company producing exciting and inspiring arts events for a range of non-traditional venues, audiences, participants and partners. Co-directors Sandie Fisher and Dr Sophy Smith have had a long-standing interest in developing work online and the Theatre in the Cloud bursary will enable them to bring together a writer, performer, director/composer and social media consultant to create a brand new piece.
The fifth bursary has been awarded to a new collaboration, Pheebs & RWig. Phoebe Marsh is a producer, writer and performer from Kent, while Rebecca Wigmore is a digital performance artist and writer, also from Kent. The bursary, combined with a residency in Folkestone’s Creative Quarter, will enable the pair to create a series of playful experiments, generating a real sense of ‘liveness’ in online performance.
“We are delighted to be supporting these pioneering projects, and we’re very grateful to the National Lottery via Arts Council England and Kent County Council for providing the funding,” says futuredream director, Cathy Westbrook.
“Gore Vidal said theatre was ‘an ability to articulate human relationships’ and that’s what these theatre-makers are trying to do – online. Now we need audiences to join in, so please do follow all the bursary-funded projects.”
You can find out about them by following @theatreincloud on Twitter or at www.futuredream.net