Digital theatre comes to Saint-Laurent for one performance
In today’s reality, staring at a screen for half the day has become the norm. There is no age limit on digital immersion. As technology becomes more accessible, children are growing up with a digital world at their fingertips, and Youtheatre production company aims to explore that on the stage starting with one performance of Dreaming Now in Saint-Laurent.
The interactive theatre piece uses technology, music and virtual imagery, “to ask a question, rather than tell a story,” said artistic director, Michel Lefebvre.
Without words, Dreaming Now tells the story of a boy who is having playful dreams in a digital universe, but the dreams become darker until the boy is nothing but pixels floating in space.
“Kids today are immersed, surrounded and grow up with 24 hour access to technology, so we thought, ‘what if it’s beyond waking,’” said Lefebvre.
“If a boy is dreaming digital dreams, is he a new form of human?” he adds.
Youtheatre debuted the piece in 2013, and the remount will open at Salle EmilieLegault, on Jan. 23, as part of a tour with the Conseil des arts de Montréal that finishes Feb. 6.
The idea for the production, aimed at children ages 7 to 12, sprang from a collaboration with programmer Guillaume Lévesque.
The technological challenges in the show are unique. Using Kinect cameras pointed on performer Jeremy Segal, digital images that he can manipulate with movement are displayed on screens. The work is a delicate balance between computer program, performer and stage manager that can be different every time.
For Lefebvre, children can be the most formidable audience, as they are not afraid to tell you exactly what they think.
“I always ask children after the show if the final moment [of the play] is a good place, or fun place . . . some kids say it’s great, some terrifying, some challenging. One of my favourite comments was a young boy who said ‘it’s kind of scary, but it doesn’t matter because he can change it.’”
The piece is more accepting of technology, rather than a cautionary tale. “You can’t go back. This is the world we live in. I think it’s changed the way we think and interact,” explained Lefebvre. “You go to a public place and everyone is on their phone or computer, there’s not interaction, but there is a lot happening virtually.”
Lefebvre is also excited to see more technology in the theatre. “Everything I go out and see is stuck in the 19th Century,” he laughed. As an exploration of new media for young audiences, he hopes to see more performing like this in the future. Dreaming Now plays Jan. 23 at 3 p.m., Salle Émilie-Legault in cégep de Saint-Laurent, 613 Ave. St- Croix. For more information call 514- 855- 6110.
Kinect cameras allow performer Jeremy Segal to manipulate digital media as if he were inside a computer, in Youtheatre’s production of