I’m a big technology lover it has to be said. I’ve got the iPhone, I’ve got the macbook and I’m up on the latest social networking devices. I combine all of these to be connected on the go, but there is one thing I’ve been relishing, and that falls into my obsession for theatre. Technology meeting Theatre on the go. There are many companies who are ultilising the latest technologies in their theatre work to explore the boundaries of theatre meeting technology which I have previously explored here. The work of Pilot Theatre and Slung Low instantly spring to mind and whilst these companies are excellent they don’t quite reach the level that the Bafta-nominated Brighton based company Blast Theory have reached in recent projects.
In their latest exploration of technology in performance Blast Theory has teamed up with Channel 4 Education to deliver an interactive SMS drama that has already been dubbed ‘the future’, called Ivy4Evr. The protagonist a 17 year old girl called Ivy is in a band, she lives in a small town, but most importantly will be delivering her thoughts to your phone in this pilot scheme for a week starting on the 10th October.
Ivy has left home because Lilsis has done the dirty on her and she’s no longer sure who her friends are. For a week she’ll tell you **everything** but can she trust you and what will you tell her?
So what is it about this project that has me excited?
Firstly the collaboration between Blast Theory and Channel 4. As one of the pioneering theatre companies working with digital technologies, anything that Blast Theory begins to explore will be adventurous and often ground breaking. Channel 4 have recently been funding arts based projects in relation to technology. Their involvement on Such Tweet Sorrows with The RSC (regardless of my opinion on the project) opened up Twitter to a whole new performance arena. I’m thrilled to see another theatre company being enlisted by Channel 4 to explore new work for young people.
The SMS Interaction excites me. When a text message is sent to you on your phone, you’re able to respond (service provider charges apply) to Ivy, and interact in conversations with her. She will “chat with you about sex, music and everything else that really matters to teenagers growing up in Britain today.” You’ll notice that there is a certain theme to Ivy4Evr, that of sex and drugs – for not only is this project performance based, but also heavily educational. The target age is teenagers, and the SMS functionality brings the drama out of the conventional theatres and into the pockets of young people.
Using SMS to interact with audiences is not new, earlier in the year Tim Etchells brought his A Short Message Spectacle to your mobile phone during Norfolk and Norwich Festival (NNF10). It was poetic, and beautifully written, containing a series of text messages sent during the festival describing events of a theatrical nature, but of course in a typical Etchells twisted manner. It was a big step forward to bringing performances outside the theatre and into your life on the go. Ivy4Evr however is a step in a whole new direction. Interaction, educational and most importantly an engagement with young people.
It will be interesting to see how ‘Ivy’ copes with some of the replies she gets during the pilot. Although saying this, judging from the development blog from Talk Web who have built the brains behind Ivy it looks like it might be more complex than just a simple interaction of text meeting a computer. Complex decoding and analysis will make this project personal and unique for each user.
Hopefully my interaction with Ivy4Evr will be as exciting as the anticipation I currently have for it. I’ll try to respond to my experiences but until then SIGN UP! (Sign up by Midnight on the 9th and you could win an iPad)
Sign up for Ivy4Evr on the website here. The project is running between 10th and 16th October.