The Performing Arts department has asked me to do an overnight review of The Builders Association production, Continuous City, this Friday. In preparation, I had the opportunity to sneak into the green room and speak with Claire Hallerau, Managing Producer for the Builders Association. I’ve re-assembled our conversation here.
Super Vision was a look into the side effects of our surveillance society, a digression into an Orwellian future. Contiuous City seems to embrace a more hopeful future, with people using the technical tools on their own.
Super Vision wasn’t trying to be Orwellian, it was more about observation, but it was a grim picture. This show has an effort to be hopeful, and the decision to hire writer Harry Sinclair was a way to make it ligher, more imaginative. Harry is a writer, director, and performer from New Zealand, writing on Lord of the Rings, amongst other films, and we knew he could help to bring a more hopeful narrative.
Continuous City is very much about relationships: How the father connects with daughter, Sam. The only way they know to connect is by video conferencing. In fact, they have talk more than they would if they were at home. It’s good and bad.
[This a really interesting paradox, backed up by the latest study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project: "The survey shows that these high rates of technology ownership affect family life. In particular, cell phones allow family members to stay more regularly in touch even when they are not physically together. Moreover, many members of married-with-children households view material online together."]
In terms of the set design, The Builders Association always seems to put people normally relegated to the sound booth or the back of the theater right on stage. Can you talk about that choice a bit?
The video performers have been on stage, because they are part of the show. If we could put the sound designer on the stage, we would. We really like to have everyone that’s part of it out there on the stage. In this show, we take it one more step, our video designer is not just on stage, but really interacting with the characters. He is a character himself.
What kind of software do you use to choreograph the performance, projection, music, etc?
We use Watchout to do everything. We spent a lot of time customizing things to make it work for the show. I don’t know all the sub-software that might be used, but it’s mostly Watchout.
You have a large tour scheduled for Continuous City, as you did with Super Vision. How does a performance like that evolve over time, as you move around the globe doing performances?
As the show travels, the setting changes to match the city. Sam, and her nanny, Deb, always live in the city where the show is taking place. They’re curious about their surroundings. In every city, the things that Sam learns about the surrounding community will change and expand.
Another way is that the xubu website will continue to invite people to add their video stories, and the pool of the video we use in the performance will continue to expand.