Di­gi­tal theatre comes to Saint-Laurent for one per­for­mance

Les Nouvelles Saint-Laurent - - CULTURE - Sa­ra.king-aba­di@ tc.tc

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.

(Pho­to Cour­te­sy – You­theatre)

Ki­nect ca­me­ras al­low per­for­mer Je­re­my Se­gal to ma­ni­pu­late di­gi­tal me­dia as if he were in­side a com­pu­ter, in You­theatre’s pro­duc­tion of

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