User Not Found: Social Media Technologies as Immersive Performance

Reflection

 

Terry O’Donovan and Daphna Attias

 

The research project has been a fascinating part of the development of User Not Found.

 

The collaboration with Marmelo’s Abhinav Bajpei and Luke Alexander has been strengthened through the research project. The ability to develop the app’s creative possibilities with the devices would not have been possible without this project. The creation of the app has also resulted in each performance being captioned which was a challenge for Marmelo, but a significant achievement for both them and for Dante or Die. As a result of the extremely positive experience, we have partnered with Marmelo on a new R&D application to develop site-based theatre for VR users.

 

The workshop & discussion with members of the ‘death industry’ was both fascinating and informative. The discussions helped us to reflect on the content of the production, particularly on the working script in relation to how much an online legacy exists for a community and beyond, not just those immediately connected with the bereaved. This work allowed us to engage with people we would not normally connect with through traditional theatre channels, and will hopefully encourage engagement in arts projects. We look forward to welcoming the participants to the public performance at South Street in October.

 

The symposium was a key part of our aims to engage with the wider theatre industry developing innovative performance with technology. The Q&A following the private preview was extremely beneficial in terms of implementing feedback to improve the experience and allowed the entire creative team to debate the themes and the technology in use for the performance.

 

Reflections and critical feedback from Lib Taylor, Lucy Jeffery and Jonathan Bignell at the different stages of development has been particularly useful. From early rehearsals through to previews it has been a key part of the critical development of the work. Lib’s detailed analysis of Dante or Die’s work has resulted in a foreword to the printed play text, as well as presentation of the project at IFTR. This has significant positive outcomes for Dante or Die and promotes the project more widely. We would most definitely like to work with academics in this way in the future when developing new productions, as it informs the dramaturgical development of a production and helps us to analyse the wider impacts that a performance can have. Lib Taylor will collaborate with us as a Co-Investigator on a new research project that explores LGBT experience in UK’s prisons, alongside Principal Investigator from University of Nottingham and leading theatre professionals. We’re looking forward to presenting the finalised production of User Not Found at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and around the country on our Autumn tour.