The TL;DR is that at 7pm on 23rd March at Barnsley Civic Theatre, there is going to be a live reading of an interactive play that I’m working on. This is a hybrid event that you can also join online – either way it’s free, with an opportunity to donate. It’s part of a night of test performances covering themes such as Long COVID, mental health, and speculative fiction – I’ve pasted some information about the other pieces below, all of which I’m really excited to see.
I find it difficult to talk or write about the thing I’m working on right now without a) getting really deep into the theory, which is immediately offputting, or b) becoming overwhelmed and dysregulated, because this project brings up really big feelings and unrealistically big ambitions. Actually, that’s probably why I’m theorising it so much, it’s a defense mechanism. When that guy said “Start With Why” I don’t think he meant “start with a dozen paragraphs about social constructivism, neuroqueerness, justice-oriented affect theory, and transmedia intertextuality”.
So, to keep it simple: my dream is to eventually make a series of interactive stories about transdimensional anthropologists, who have been implanted in our world to observe how we humans are collectively constructing our present reality. Even the identity and conscious experience of the anthropologist is shaped by the society in which they have been implanted. I have a hunch that there’s something particularly rewarding about making these stories in the form of interactive theatre, where the audience is directly shaping the protagonist’s actions.
In this play, called “It’s Just What You Do’, Cass learns that they are one of these transdimensional beings, and makes contact with Iris, their supervisor at the research institute that put them here. Naturally, they are furious about being given the odious assignment of existing in our world. It’s a comedy, but it’s literally about not wanting to be here anymore, so please consider your mental health when engaging with this piece.
Joining via video call, the supervisor Iris is played by Francesca Forristal (they/them), also known as award-winning drag king Christian Adore. Forristal’s work ranges from period dramas (Netflix’s Blood, Sex, and Royalty, ’22 and BBC’s Marie Antoinette, season 2), feminist horror-movies, a queer Victorian animation series (for Amazon Prime), and a musical on the West End (Public Domain, ’21). They currently have shows in development with Disney Plus and Heartstopper’s SeeSaw. Learn more at Forristal.co.uk
On stage in Barnsley is the agent Cass, played by Xander Graves (he/him, they/them). Xander is an actor who loves to experiment with different mediums, and has most recently been involved with Sheffield Theatres as part of the Young Company (this is how I met them!) as well as Sheffield People’s Theatre. Xander is exploring opportunities to explore their art and discover new and exciting things to do within the industry, whether that be continuing on the stage or moving closer to TV and Film. Follow them at @xandergravesactor on Instagram.
Beth Crackles – STABLE
STABLE is a true story about family, domestic abuse, mental health, horse dealing, vets… and uncontrollable laughter. It asks the audience to consider the lasting impact of domestic abuse on the adult that grows from the child who has experienced it.
Erin Marsh – Hopefully, Maybe
The universe is slowly freezing, all its energy burned out. Work together with other audience members to keep a constellation alight.
This interactive text-based performance explores community in an isolated world, working to achieve a common goal in the face of inevitability.
Alanna Wilson – Life 7.0
Life 7.0 mixes bouffon, movement and digital performance to explore an absurd dystopian reality where a group of people live and work in a simple utopia. This piece also draws on inspiration from classic 60s/70s sci-fi movies, the rise of tech start-up companies and the notion of Ayn Rand’s objectivism influence on the world today.
Verity Richards – Long
In the curious loophole of not being “disabled enough” sits Verity. And 2.3 million other people.
Using testimony and recordings from the Long Covid community, Long explores the ache of losing your identity, the whacky world of self-medication and the joy of finding a new life in the club no one wanted to join.