It’s been a good week so far, as far as seeing neat ways to integrate multimedia into theatre performances go. On Saturday, I got to check out Parlour Song at the Fringe – which used multimedia in a subtle, but powerful way, to emphasize and supplement what was happening on stage. DELETE, which played August 27 at StageLab Theatre Festival, was a shocking contrast to the use of multimedia in Parlour Song. In DELETE, the multimedia was the focus of the performance.
DELETE is set in the future, where everyone’s lives (and memories) are stored externally, in a digital format. Kim McCaw, the piece’s Dramaturg, describes it as, “imagine Facebook taken to the extreme, with everyone’s complete identity and memory existing online forever.”
To portray this highly digitized future, the audio and visual aspects of the multimedia completely overtook the performance at times. One of my favourite scenes, which was repeated several times, was when green binary numbers set against a black background completely overtook everything on the stage – scrolling across the actors, the multiple screens, and the mannequins. This imagery was particularly powerful as, moments before, Konstantin (Kris Joseph) had begged with the largest screens to delete all of his profile information. The combination of Konstantin’s overwhelming need to have his information – including his memory – deleted, combined with an endless amount of data (presumably about him) was powerful, and slightly scary - is this the way our society is headed? Or are we there now? I, of course, am an angel, and have never put anything online that I’d beg for it to be deleted… I think.
Another really neat way multimedia was incorporated into the performance was having the characters interact with images and videos of themselves projected onto the many screens. One moment Konstantin was taking advice from a past version of himself, the next moment, he was staring (in longing, or in horror, I’m not sure) at a photo of himself. Having two or three digital copies of the characters on stage at the same time as the actors made for a striking image.
DELETE, created by Stefan Dzeparoski, is still in its development, and the performance on August 27 was selected scenes from the play. Perhaps because it was not the entire play, I walked away from the performance in awe of the power the multimedia brought to it, but confused as to the actual story the performance told. I knew from the program what the performance would be about, but didn’t really follow it during the play. In part, this was because I found the dialogue really hard to hear. An echo had been added to the audio amplification, which really reinforced the futuristic setting, but made it hard for me to make out the words being said. Another issue was simply to do with the performance space. DELETE took place in the Timms Centre’s Second Performance Space, which is a flat studio. The chairs were arranged with approximately 2 feet of space on every side of the chairs, which was very effective in making me feel alone and isolated, however, the way they were staggered made it hard for me to see what was happening on stage. However, this is an easy fix, if the performance were to be moved to a space where the audience was not level with the performance.
StageLab runs August 27-31. Check out what else is going on at StageLab in my interview with Festival Producer, Priscilla Yakielashek, or see the festival schedule.
- Jenna Marynowski