Yale community members discussed emerging technologies for theatre in this pandemic to check close-contact performances. In the event, organized by the Yale Center for Collaborative Arts and Media (CCAM) and Yale Cabaret, speakers spoke about their visions for stage-storytelling in this digital age. They considered proposals ranging from LED costumes with motion sensors to at-home prop design.
Justin Berry, Yale School of Art professor, described how creators could use AR and VR to develop interactive stories.
“With virtual reality, you’re isolated, and you have a headset on which puts you in a world by yourself. It’s fairly profound that you can lose agency relative to the world. One of the ramifications of that is: people who are not comfortable in their body sometimes don’t want to put on a headset that’s going to obscure their ability to see the world. VR and AR alter the social norms of human interaction. In augmented reality, you have two people wearing headsets, and they’re seeing different things in what they otherwise think is a shared world. They create a new kind of power dynamic that, as a culture, we don’t really have a great vocabulary for working our way around.” – Justin Berry, Yale School of Art professor
According to Berry, virtual storytelling needs mentors and students to scrap-storytelling conventions and to rethink how narrative and time are related.
“When you’re dealing with a medium that’s interactive, you’re not dealing with straight lines that go in one place, you’re dealing with clusters or nodes or networks of the activity that can feed back in on themselves. The opportunity here is to reimagine what a story can be and how it can be told.” – Berry
New York-based interactive artist Toni Dove showed the guests her projects, like the “Dress That Eats Souls.” This LED dress reacts to users’ movements, captures the user’s image, and displays it. Dove also staged immersive film experiences.
Jennifer McClure, a lecturer at the School of Drama at the Yale Repertory Theatre came to her show with a cardboard box, a few plants, and masking tape. She explained that fidgeting with Zoom backgrounds, print-out sets and small cardboard props could allow theater performers to perform from their bedrooms.
“This is literally my laundry bag. My meshy gauze laundry bag. If I use it, it could look like a curtain. These are super old, basic tricks to frame your space and frame your window.” – McClure