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Devoted and Disgruntled Report - STS

Devoted and Disgruntled Report - STS

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Published by Hannah Nicklin

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: Hannah Nicklin on Feb 02, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Such Tweet Sorrow - how can we stop it from ever happening again? (Or, what canwe learn from it)
Convened by Hannah Nicklin 
Participants included: Dan Bye, Jake Orr, Pat Ashe, Dan Baker, Aliki Chapple, Jenifer Tan,Miriam Zendle, Timothy Bird, Simon Bedford, Paul Whitlock and others.Session 3, 4.30-6pm at the 'Craig' space.The session began with an attempt to isolate what, if anything, people found problematicabout Such Tweet Sorrow (STS). It was suggested that the dialogue wasn't open enoughfor the medium it was in - that it paid lip service to Twitter as a form. Pat Ashe highlightedthe problems with using Twitter solely as a base and ignoring the wider potentialstorytelling value of new media - and in fact the reality of how real people use this media,they don't broadcast, the inhabit a universe built of fragments shared of their lives/data. Alink was drawn to Jake's previous session about 'cool' and theatre, and that STS seemed afacile attempt to make Shakespeare palatable for a younger audience; fundamentallymissing the fact that the average age of a twitter user is mid 30s - facebook being a muchyounger audience*. Dan Baker wondered what was left in STS of Shakespeare, after theremoval of the language.It was also considered by Hannah Nicklin that there was something deeply troubling aboutnot just product placement, but active product endorsement as part of the drama -insidious and manipulative at worst, story-universe-maligning at best. It was agreed by thegroup that there was a key problem in the casting of traditional actors - not actors withdevising experience, or, indeed writers - in the roles, considering how the majority of theinput was the writing of a character, not the performance (in a traditional sense**) of it.Hannah asked whether, though, considering the small but vociferously defensive fan base,it could be suggested that there was potential snobbery on our part in the way we receivedthe piece, but it was dismissed as formally fundamentally flawed - a devaluation of thetwitter form.Jake Orr highlighted the glimmers of interest that the rare forays onto other platforms -videos of a fight, and images - evoked suggested how it could have evolved into a morefulfilled and realistic experience.On the question of the work's actual accessibility to young people it was suggested thatSTS seemed poorly researched in how people use twitter, the kind of people who usetwitter, and young people the,selves. There wasn't enough reciprocity and the characterswere parodic.Dan Bye suggested that despite this, it was interesting that such a large establishedcompany should recognise the importance of something like twitter, but that the problemcame in not letting go of their old perceptions of how an artistic process or performanceshould be affected by those not 'in control'.The conversation then sashayed into discussion on institutions and their use of Twitter,and how they work best when control (from old ideas about brand control) is relinquished,Jake talked about Little Angel's feed, and his work on that. Hannah wondered if their
willingness to 'get' social media might have something to do with a being a children'stheatre - are they less used to expecting to be always in control?It was then emphasised that it's important to highlight that the
of STS was laudable.Hannah then asked for 'solutions' to the potential problems presented by STS - morewidely perhaps, of theatrical storytelling online.Aliki's idea was the bringing of twitter text back into the live - a love improv of actors infront of an audience, tweeted directions by 'writers' from a screen***Miriam put forward the expansion of other mediums' universes online - like the BBCSherlock's blogs for Holmes and Watson. Hannah also pointed towards Hide and Seek'sinvolvement with the recent Sherlock movie, and the ARG**** that they developed out ofthat across blogs and sites.It was also suggested that more simply a story should spread into a universe - not create asingle stream.Dan Bye mentioned an interesting collaboration between himself and Dan Rebellato withPilot Theatre coming up - R&Ding the potential of twitter theatre/writing/storytelling.It was agreed that it's very easy to underestimate people's urge to find out more, of 'digitalnative' generation's tendency to play with things to see what they do, and that reward iswhat they need to get meaningful interaction, not guidance.Aliki talked about Star Voyage - a SciFi twitter story over several characters which shediscovered slowly after one character followed her (likely following a simple search for'SciFi')The discussion then tentatively moved toward the question of what is theatre. Aliki felt thatit should be about bodies in space, whereas Hannah felt it should be more about storyexperienced or expressed thorough a body (navigated via instructions in a headset?). DanBye was less concerned with the question, than just making things. And talked aboutwanting online drama to leave real world residues - events that trickle into real life', andalso the need that a piece needs to have not been possible in another genre/form/medium.Hannah asked what successful cross-platform story-driven experiences the group couldsuggest, Tim Etchell's SMS performance, and Ivy from Blast theory were highlighted astwo really successful examples, primarily because they pervaded your day-to-day life in
ways. Ivy in particular because of the very powerful level of interaction. A pieceby Unlimited was also mentioned, as well as the performance group who staged a hangingon Chatroulette (although massive ethical difficulties lie therein).It was pointed to how easy it is to feel you know people online, as the conversation movedtowards the ability of online performance to interrogate the gaps between 'real' and 'fake'.That the idea of 'authenticity' is a bit of a cultural obsession. Recently Catfish, and TheTrip have skated this question or 'real'.The discussion drew to a close with Jake's assertion that he was ready to praise STS, notfor it's content, but for it's readiness to address the form. There is a fundamental questionabout how it was conceived - as audience development, as a youth project, or as anexperiment - because if an experiment, it can be a success in relative failure.

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