I remember the feeling I had when I first went on FB. It was a jolt. My imagination opened a door. I saw it happen, I heard its hinge catching, and I felt the change in the air. Revolution. I entered the FB room, a room that already held the whole of the Internet within its walls. The door was at the front of the Internet! What a big room! A young man’s brilliance was assured because of where he put the door. February 2004 TheFacebook.com was launched. As I stood at the threshold, I saw that in very short order the Internet, like the land it mirrors, would be entirely colonized. Has this happened? I am not a technophobe nor technophile. I am an early adopter, or I was, as this quality in me may have changed since I was first labelled one. I was on FB. I am not on it now. I miss you FB world. That’s a lie. I sense sometimes that some among you miss me missing it. But only very rarely as the world moves on whether or not I join the march.
I am not on FB because I was not able to make the bridge between online and offline realms work. I am an archivist by nature; I collate data to make sense of the world. Pre-FB I relied on hearsay and gossip to locate me in society. Post FB my synapses could not fire fast enough to distinguish between that which was “secret knowledge”, silently informing my social decision making process, and that which was clearly known, and therefore trumpeting my choices in regular social byplay.
All to say that the social world changed in 2004.
Now, most of us live, and to some degree, love online. Many of us play online, meet online, shop online, bank online, and build identities that may or may not reflect our earth bound selves online. We don’t need to limit ourselves to Second Life because the Internet in post FB time is a second life. Second Life was a cool idea – to be sure – but not a brilliant, essential one like Mark Zuckerberg’s door. A door that opened us into a new conception of a Social Network: A repository for all of our secrets and lies.
Here’s the thing. All of this was happening before Zuckerberg stamped it. Save for the door, it was all lining up anyway. It takes a village and Zuckerberg was just one of our children. And since then the village has made the Twitter kid and the Instagram kid and perhaps most proudly we have made the Google kid and the Wiki kid and the ever-maligned LinkedIn kid. And all of these kids have been procreating – just like humans – and making things like Snapchat and Grindr and Vine etc.,.
Where is theatre in any of this?
Theatre meets in time and space and breath. Nicholas Hytner’s, NTLive knows this. And the idea of live broadcast, first made popular by opera, has revolutionized my sense of what theatre can do. NTLive is not – however – “live” when I watch it in Canada. But it was “live” for the camera team that captured in “real time” what the audience and the actors were communing about. And the audience and the actors were – in their communion – impacted by the fact of global eyes watching it live in all manner of country. Time is out of joint in this ‘live-ness” but it still imparts aspects of live when I watch it.
Two things in particular: It allows the drama to unfold of in human time and space. Failure can happen at any moment and – indeed – in small ways, likely imperceptible ways, it does with each NTLive broadcast. Secondly, going to the cinema to watch NTLive, in no way diminishes my desire to make work, or see work that could one day be part of a “live” emission. The revolution occurred because “live” art from “far away” is now accessible to me when formerly it was not. This is the revolution. The fact that it is available to me, in Canada, and someone else in Kuala Lumpur, within veritable minutes of one another, is revolutionary. We are – again – sitting in reach of a civilization that can meet in a great global amphitheatre and engage – together – over matters of global concern.
The SpiderWebShow wants to make some space inside the room.
What I want for the SpiderWebShow, and what we have so far, is still some distance apart. But I do know that I want us to be active participants in this great expansion. What I want is to create a clear image of online theatre, to provide a sense of volume in these rooms, so that you can be inspired to fill these spaces with really great shows. We are now in the process of re-branding our Experiments Page. We are doing this so as to provide a clearer picture of working theatres. Now you will be able to go to the Twitter Theatre or the Sonic Theatre. Soon I hope you will be able to attend the Studio Theatre (a space where you and artists from anywhere in the world can meet together to create work, and then present it to people when they come to the SpiderWebShow.)
What I want is for you to want to come to the show and to stay for another, and then come back to create your own. What I hope is that you will begin to perceive an online complex that connects the far reaches of this country in a click and allows for work to be born, to grow and to show. What I want is for SWS to become the destination, not the drive-through; not a marketing tool for the greatness of theatre, but a celebration, of the enduring fact that theatre is great.
I want Canada’s theatre-makers to use the theatres and the other tools at SpiderWebShow to communicate who we are to one another. I want work to get created and presented in our show. In a still unresolved opposition, I see the SpiderWebShow as a place, and as a show. A disconnect remains; yet our show is fuelled by connection. The SpiderWebShow needs creative minds to bridge the gap. We need your ideas, and your shows, and your creative minds to give it the shape that I feel it to have but in real terms does not yet have. It is a grand experiment, and one day soon I hope that this space becomes a place where a sense of the totality of our potential meets. It is lofty – I know – but then again loftiness and digital space seem well-suited to one another I hope this is true
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