Categories 21st Century Media Practice, Final Project : Immersive Telepresence in Theatre

Final Reflections & Projections.

Alice in Wonderland- Lewis Carroll.

So this is my final post and reflective blog on my experience

The above video is of Natasha Tsakos  who is a  a pioneer in theatre performance integrating technology with live performance. She speaks passionately about her field and the possibilites for human experience through theatre. When I watched this video is was a moment of YES!  She finds it difficult to explain what she does, but when she performs people understand. Her future philosophies on what the human experience can be in the 21st century is of a similar thought. It is evolutiontionary and a a 21st centruy technium is happening.

It is difficult to explain and its only when you show someone a video or picture do they start to see some of the world that I have been living in.

This project is more than just a group of people using a big skype screen or a portal to another world.

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It’s immersive in every essence. The reality that you knew, changes the moment you immerse yourself within the theatre and the screen. The inward, sensory, and psychophysical journey that I have been on I can’t describe in words.

Categories 21st Century Media Practice, Final Project : Immersive Telepresence in Theatre

Cirkus School & Singing

 CIRKUS SCHOOL-

During the telepresence week, we would spend each morning doing a warm up session, focusing on mind body and voice. When we got to Tampere, the tempo change, what had been limited to some extent was togetherness in a tangible form. They had shared a digital immersive space, with a window into each other worlds. however a tangible, connectedness and physical space had not been shared. And Cirkus school is where the process was going to begin.

Ive realised on this whole experience that actors like to get up close and personal. This is something that I have always struggled with, I like my own space and too me if was something that I hadn’t part in. I had always been on the periphery, and circus school was the same. It would take till the end of the week in a body movement class for that to be broken.

The method I approached was more ethnographic. Firstly because I am in no way in any physical form to be carrying a student on my back, secondly I wanted to observe how both sets of students formed their : ‘tribe’ for want of better word.

Through the use of the acrobatic classes, taught by Yolie the circus performer, the students began to develop this trust. And secondly through the use of voice in Soilas’ session.

Relating this to the research in the  Sisters of Sound Part 1 & Sisters of sound Part 2 , specifically the neuroscience and what happens to the brain. Humans within their communities would often come together to sing. It was a form of identity and Soila brought this out in them, by instructing them to find there inner vikings.

The Finnish students and Coventry students where now forming their community in a different set, they were syncing up creatively and collaborating in a way that was so human, the energy in the room was overwhelming and powerful.

The neuroscience of singing shows that when we sing our neurotransmitters connect in new and different ways. It fires up the right temporal lobe of our brain, releasing endorphins that make us smarter, healthier, happier and more creative. When we sing with other people this effect is amplified- Prof. S Wilson

 

Even they way in which I have filmed it, has been a challenge. I can at the time, that I was fairly blown away with what I was experiencing. I wanted to capture everything and I didn’t know what to focus on. Jon my colleague who you can see recording the sound in the background, is grinning and smiling the whole way through. He was also experiencing the same energy and it did just want to make you smile. As it really was a coming together moment, that was so pure and human in its energy no one would have helped but smiled and laughed…. even if they felt uncomfortable by what they were experiencing.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories 21st Century Media Practice, Final Project : Immersive Telepresence in Theatre

The Land of A Thousands Lakes- Finland

Mistä olet kotoisin?

Tourism Poster Sourced: Pintrest.com

Where are you from?

Magical and ethereal  and in some way, has a drop back of elven woods from middle earth. It is the extremes of light and dark,  Freezing, snowy magical winters, with blissful long summers, with a double day. And in winter the northern lights can be seen dancing in the skies.

The land of a thousands lakes, well specifically thats 187,888 in total. There are around  179, 584 islands approx. 100,000 of these are located in these lakes. It is a place where you may just believe, that you could possibly bump into a troll or a wisp in the woods.

Finland may only be a 100 years old in terms of independence and in its time, surrounding countries have fought over the land. The people have a close relationship with this land. Much of that relationship is reflected in poetry such as the Kalevala, folklore & song.

A liberal and equal country now, but it took many artists and creatives to assist with the culture and identity change. The Cambridge history of Theatre (2010) describes Finnish theatre as “retelling of the story of the national awakening. The threat from foreign imperialism and eventually victory through political independence.”

Finland produced artist and writer Tove Jasson, who if you have ever read the Moomins, lived in Moomin valley, somewhere in Finland.

And then there is also ‘Tom of Finland’. An artist who completely challenged the status quo for homo-erotica art and very much set a president of identity for the gay community, not only in Finland but around the world. When I look at his art, I can see Freddy Mercury.

This is a brief introduction into what Finland is about. I have only touched the surface. But I know that its a place that I love. The clean air, the water, they mystery and magica. The calmness, tranquility, the extremes and quiet emptiness. In the Words of the Monty Python song “Finland Finland the country I want to be, Finland has it all”…

“An introverted Finn looks at his shoes when talking to you; an extroverted Finn looks at your shoes”.

 

Finnish Nightmares
Illustrator:karoliina-korhone

There is a stereotype that Finns are reserved…. Well lets just say thats not true in my experience. I would just say that they have a special attitude and use of words. They are selective. And then you have the ‘Finnish word’, meaning that when things are said, they are meant. Meaning face value is, face value There is a Finnish proverb “Take a man by his words and a bull by its horns”

 

Chit-chat is small, but the Finns once they get to know you. Have this dark sense of humour, that is witty and to the point and incredibly dry..

 

Categories 21st Century Media Practice, Final Project : Immersive Telepresence in Theatre

Embodiment, Mindfulness & Movement Part 2

“Be the centre of your storm”

Dr.Tiina Syrja

The Storm, a word which has so many metaphors. Not only in the Play of King Lear, where Lear looses his mind, but in other forms of literature. T

Twain relinquished that “weather is necessary to a narrative of human experience.” And Shakespeare told us- “minded like the weather’.  Lear is likeminded and chaotic like the storm. And in essence, these two writers are reflecting what all humans can feel internally.

Tiina Integral Yoga from Beck Stewart on Vimeo.

This was the final day of using the screen for a warm up class;: Yoga

Dr Tiina Syrja, is a Senior Lecturer in Acting at University of Tampere. Tiina is a speech therapist, yoga teacher, vocologist and is a teacher of the Alexander technique. I touched upon the Alexander technique in my previous blog “Embodiment, Mindfulness & Movement: Part 1”

The Alexander techniques was designed by F.M Alexander. He was an Australian actor who reflected and observed his human function. B.Rosenburgh 2008 describes Alexanders research Including body expression, posture, voice and body balance. By analysing and observing himself he discovered that through muscular interference he had not been using his body in the best way. He discovered that the tensions he was experiencing, were not always immediately felt but built up to a sensory value.  The methods he developed used systems within movement and body, that coordinated the distribution of the psychophysical process, starting with the head.

Categories 21st Century Media Practice, Final Project : Immersive Telepresence in Theatre

Embodiment, Movement & Mindfulness Part 1

“For real human beings, the only realism is an embodied realism.”
― George Lakoff

Embodiment? That word….. a word that is flown around, especially where I work… If I am completely honest, until this project i really just didn’t get it. I had become disconnected with myself. However I was never someone who just threw the idea off… I wanted to understand what it meant, and really what it felt like.. I had lost the meaning of the word.

In a concrete representation of this word, some may say that life and its concept is represented by a circle. That is physical, that can be drawn shown and seen… this is what comes up when you google it off dictionary.com but then there is the other embodiment.

That other embodiment …..

What is ’embodiment’ when we consider it within an abstract context?

How does it feed the soul? That human experience that feeds some state of your own consciousness? Surely the incarnation of an experience will somehow attribute, to the embodiment of the human experience and surely would make us more human and for a happier and healthier society?

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In order to to be fully embodied for an actor, there has to be a level of mindfulness in performance.  And in order for that actor to be embodied, the process an actor would go through is vast, and then they would approach a particular or series of method.  It may be done in through varying types of practice such as Meditation, Yoga and Martial Arts.

“Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.” ~Sylvia Boorstein

Many of the methods and process that Tiina & Mikko are psychophysical in practices and body within theatre. Cis.Rit.Edu , 2017, describe psychophysical as the scientific study of the stimuli (which is a physical term) and the perceptions and sensations that are evoked by this stimuli.

Dr Mikko is a practitioner of Asahi Health  which is a combination of the basis of  Eastern health practices such as Tai-Chi, but movements are based on Western medicine and physical education. One of the basic goals was to enhance peoples mobility & health. The programme was developed by a group of professional in fitness and martial arts, their names respectively are; Ilpo Jalamo, Timo Klemola, Keijo Mikkonen and Yrjö Mähönen . The approaches developed were to enhance and promote positive effects, on overall well being for those who practice it.

Categories Final Project : Immersive Telepresence in Theatre

Sisters of Sound – Sam ‘Frankie’ Fox Part 2

The Second Sister of sound was a lady called Sam ‘Frankie’ Fox, who is a performance artist and is part of the KILN Theatre Company, Birmingham.

Source: Kilnsemble.org Artist: Sam ‘Frankie” Fox

The ensemble  is collaboration between a wide range of artists, that through a ‘collision of art forms they create original material that is lit with imagination , playful and focus is on the audience experience.  I had only ever heard of the KILN theatre, but had never seen one of their performance.

Tom on the other hand, has known Sam for a while amongst the Theatre scene. That morning in the theatre as we both pulled in at 7:30 am, it was a time to prepare for what day had planned. This was my brief of what and who to expect…. and by the end of what he had shown me on Youtube, I could see why Tom had asked Sam to come and teach, especially after working with Soila the previous morning.
What Sam was bringing to the table, complemented, added another layer and by the end of the session I could see the linking of human experience, embodiment & performance.

 

 

 

 

Sams describes her performances with KILN productions, as hitting the audiences in the  ‘heart, head and gutt.  The performances seem immersive for the audience members and specifically ‘The Furies’ production.Audience members enter more of a gig than a theatre.  It is playing with performance in a different way, to remove the audience member out of their comfort zone and displace them sensory, so that envokes something else within the self.

Categories Final Project : Immersive Telepresence in Theatre

The Sisters of Sound- Soila Sariola Part 1

…”People speak many different languages from all over the world, but music is their common ground. “… Charles Hazel-Wood ( Conductor- BBC Proms- Human Planet)

Actors when in training have to be centred both in the mind, body and voice. It is an understanding of the human psyche, the concept within the role which is ultimately built upon the range of human experiences through body, sensorium, mind, emotion intuition & spirit (M. Fortier, Theory/Theatre an introduction 2016)

Throughout the week of rehearsals, each morning would consist of a type of body movement or vocal class. It would centre around the use of the body being used as an instrument. When we think of the body, we think of the physical form, but what about the voice, and the existential projection that most humans possess. Language is one form of communication, but we cannot always connect in this way, yet Charles Hazel-Wood states, it is music that is our common ground.

Yet to understand Music, we really have to understand sound… And this first place is within ourselves and the vocal range that  the human can possess, if he channels it beyond the vocal chords.

These experimentations of creating sounds with the body began with the first session with Soila Sarola. A professional Alto singer and is a graduate specialising in Finnish folk music, where the voice is the main instrument. She is one of the members of the Finnish six-voice a cappella ensemble Rajaton, a Finnish word for ‘boundless’ and has released over 16 albums with the group. Soila also composes music scores for choirs and is a graduate of Finnish Folk Music.

 

 

 

Categories Communication, Final Project : Immersive Telepresence in Theatre

Adobe Connect & King Lear:Online.

Monday

“Anyone can lecture from the butt, only very few can act.”
― Pawan Mishra, Coinman: An Untold Conspiracy

So Monday came and the drum roll began. The whole week of a technical set-up was the walk up the aisle to finally beginning this process of using telepresence as a technical form, to rehearse William Shakespeare’- King Lear (1604-1606). The students had been given their roles, scenes and acts. They had informally met through Facebook, however they were about to check into ‘Adobe Connect’. Whereby they would be given the bedrock knowledge and history of Shakespeare.

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This was the Kickstart lecture, the day that the students would participate in an ‘Adobe Connect’ room. Whereby Tom could deliver his 2 hour lecture on the subject of Shakespearean theatre. In a normal situation a lecture would be in a classroom, directing this information outwardly.

‘Adobe connect’ is a conferencing software, that enables a multiple layered method to teach within a virtual space. This virtual space is essentially your classroom, whereby you can discuss and share content, videos and ask questions.

It gives another form of communication that is not normally seen within a lecture room or a classroom.  Whereby information is given, but the investment sometimes will not be received back. There is participatory culture, respect and less of ‘lecture’ form, whereby the investment of knowledge can be measured back, through the engagement and participation, that is visual and more intimate.

Participatory culture shifts the focus of literacy from one of individual expression to community involvement.

Henry Jenkins
Categories 21st Century Media Practice, Final Project : Immersive Telepresence in Theatre

Stepping into the rabbit hole of Immersive Telepresence in Theatre.

 “In jest, there is truth.”
William Shakespeare, King Lear

You remember when Dorothy went to the ‘Land of OZ’, or when Alice fell down that rabbit hole?……

Yeah. Well that has just happened to me.

Lears Lapse 2 from Beck Stewart on Vimeo.

I have been exploring the world of Immersive Telepresence in Theatre, using visual immersive anthropology techniques and this is just a summary of what I encountered and felt this week….

While lost in the madness of Lear.

King Lear:Online

I find myself meeting two groups of Theatre students, that are rehearsing Shakespeare’s: King Lear. Rehearsals take place over a telepresence screen  and a window of communication is opened between two countries that are 1554.6KM apart.

This happened between students from the University of Tampere, Finland & Coventry University, UK.

But it is so much more than this…..

Categories 21st Century Media Practice, Final Project : Immersive Telepresence in Theatre, Planning

Planning for a Playwright

Benjamin Franklin was once quoted as saying;

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail-

If I am honest there has been some procrastination, this however, has been more out of the fear of what I am about to take on. I have a habit of sometimes being a busy fool, and can find myself being a ‘media powerhouse’ churning out content that I may not use or need. And the question is; is this content produced relevant? What am I trying to convey & say?

My first meeting with my supervisors, Ken and Nick, I didn’t feel prepared. I had all of these thoughts and ideas of how I wanted the King Lear to be filmed, however, I didn’t have a plan and this was the problem. My mind was awash with thoughts but no conceit narrative of the final project.

They questioned what the narrative flow was it going to be? Who were the people I was following? And what was it specifically I was trying to cover. From the conversation I formed a basic mindmap and outline of the themes and content that we had discussed.

So I have to have a plan! If I reflect my feelings and approaches the last few months. I have had to get a full appreciation of what the project is about, I have had to be patient with the curators in their own planning and I have to understand what King Lear themes and subjects are. From this discussion I created a basic narrative workflow on the areas that I was going to start with.

 

Categories 21st Century Media Practice, Final Project : Immersive Telepresence in Theatre

This is not Stargate: Telepresence in Theatre

This is not a portal to some other dimension as in Stargate, whereby the lecturer teleports his students to some far off galaxy and they perform shakespeare.

NO!

But Imagine if you could walk up to a large flat screen, being projected on the screen is a room, that mirrors the room you are standing in. A person walks onto that screen and they are the same hight and build as yourself, but it isn’t you, its someone else. You realize that you can interact with that person, talk, communicate, there is a 2 way communication going on. So you’re probably now thinking, well this just sounds like a skype conversation.

Well its not, when you have someone the same size as you, in an endless space and you are performing Shakespeare together and the people on the screen, just happen to be performance actors from the the University of Tampere.

This becomes something else…..