BLOG

  • Justin Cliffe

Open Source - Digital Theatre Lab

Exploring new forms born from a virus.

I've recently been awarded funding from Arts Council Wales to facilitate a research project into new-digital-theatre.


Of all the work I have done during lockdown, the challenge and discovery involved in making work digitally and online has not only allowed me to be creative in wholly new ways, but also kept me invested in working with people to tell stories, reach new audiences and create new experiences.


I understand that right now this form has had a lot of exposure and so audiences (and artists) are probably tired of it. However, I think that live-streaming has a huge potential to profoundly redefine the ways in which we think about, talk about, make, experience and promote theatre in the future, as well as dramatically question what we can make, where we can make it and who can be involved.


In noticing how adaptable and versatile some of this new digital content has been, I have also noticed that as theatre/performance/content makers we have suddenly been given the ability to create work that can remove the traditional barriers of access, economic disenfranchisement, classism, geography, mobility and mental health.


My aim is to run a sort-of digital theatre lab that encourages artists, makers, audiences and other creatives to analyse, converse, reflect and plan. I also want to do some think-tanking, along with finding and funding 3 experimental collaborations between performance makers and digital technicians/designers/digi-heads/film makers/animators etc.


Working alongside a professional copy-writer and arts administrator, it is my hope that any work made as part of this process can feed into some sort of digital-theatre-making thesis and resource that will be available for free online for anyone to use; hence the title OPEN SOURCE.


Through this project I want to:


- Focus on improving Wales’ digital arts infrastructure and creative skillset.

- Explore better access methods for Deaf, disabled and bi-lingual audiences.

- Anticipate ways in which digital creations can enhance and diversify our sector.

- Form a community who can share knowledge and create new ideas.

- Offer these ideas as cells that can grow independently with or without support in a post-covid world.


I think there is immense value in the further exploration and development of digital performance mediums. Not only for the next unexpected pandemic, but for a better-connected world after Covid-19. I want to explore this potential and help to connect Wales' with the rest of the world, improving our creative resilience and opportunities post Covid and post Brexit. When planning for a future in which traditional forms of theatre feel massively unstable, creating this lab and doing this groundwork feels vitally important to me.


What is this new story telling form? How can it enhance the traditional theatrical experience? What games can we play? How many new audiences can we meet? Where can this take us? What happens when live theatre meets live streaming? Could a cast member stream into a live show from the other side of the world? Can theatre remain free? How much do we need venues? What will audiences tolerate? What do artists want? What if the finale exists only on your phone? Can this instil better equity into our industry? Is this a new art form? Are we technically making films? What if all work is for Deaf audiences? What happens next? What do you want to make?


I move into this territory understanding I know little about it, however, from my time in lockdown making/collaborating/watching/enduring/surrendering to/obsessing over/relishing in new-digital-theatre, I have developed a strong interest in it and so I'm here to listen, talk, make, support and learn more in order to see what we can discover and share amongst our creative communities.


In order to more clearly define the "type" of work I want OPEN SOURCE to be for, I've laid out a few caveats:


- I'm only interested in exploring work that is actually LIVE.

- Original work will be favoured over straight forward play readings, radio plays/podcasts, adaptations of existing performances or texts.

- Even though this work feels multi-form in it's nature, I'm interested in focusing on work that embraces the multi-formness of it as something necessary to mode and story telling.

- This project is for freelancers and creative individuals to come together and collaborate. My preference is to work with and fund artists who have not been fortunate enough to receive funding elsewhere, although this is not a guarantee. I also need to work with the right people with the right skills.

- This project is independent from any venue or larger arts organisation, and will remain so. Though I am seeking additional support from certain agencies with notable track record in this department.


Lastly, I am here to collaborate and support the art scene in Wales however I can.


Over the next few weeks I will be posting more information to my blog and making a dedicated online space for this work to become fully realised.


If you're interested in talking to me about this work please get in touch by emailing me at: mejustincliffe@hotmail.co.uk


Mucho,


JTC




0 views