You are very star—an immersive transmedia experience in Vancouver (Canada)

Vancouver’s Electric Company Theatre is launching a new show next week with previews June 12 – 14 and and an opening night on June 15, 2013. Here’s a trailer for this transmedia theatre event,

The trailer intrigues me as does this description of You Are Very Star, from the event page,

YOU ARE VERY STAR is an immersive, transmedia experience from Vancouver’s legendary ELECTRIC COMPANY THEATRE that will transport you back to 1968 and ahead to 2048, from the height of the Space Race to the dawn of a new augmented humanity, as characters in each story look forward or back to 2013 as a mysterious time of wonder.

Pushing at the boundaries of where theatre exists, You Are Very Star is encountered on-line, through social media, as a site-specific treasure hunt and as live theatre inside Vancouver’s beloved planetarium.

Perched like a spaceship in Vanier Park, the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre is, for a limited time, a portal to the most important moment in history: right now. Your presence will change the world.

As for the location (also noted in my Science events in Vancouver (Canada) for June 7 and June 13, 2013 posting), you really need to check out the map and the directions. The HR MacMillan Space Centre is one of two tenants (the other is the Museum of Vancouver) in a facility located in a park near Kitsilano beach. The Bard on the Beach Shakespeare festival which takes place beside the facility starts June 12, 2013 and this is a very popular festival. Taking the bus means a 10 -15 minute hike, as well as, the festival hubbub and parking in that area is likely to be at a premium.

Despite any extra effort involved, I strongly suggest checking out You Are Very Star not just because the trailer is intriguing and mysterious. The Electric Company Theatre has a long history of innovative theatre integrated with feats of technical magic and is well known for this locally and nationally. The production I’m most familiar with is Studies in Motion: The Hauntings of Eadweard Muybridge. The production premiered in 2006 and featured the most breathtaking lighting design I’ve seen yet.  The show is mentioned in the Wikipedia essay on Eadweard Muybridge (for anyone unfamiliar with Muybridge, he was a photographer whose most outstanding contribution was a still series of studies on motion; he also pioneered motion-picture projection),

The play Studies in Motion: The Hauntings of Eadweard Muybridge (2006) was a co-production between Vancouver’s Electric Company Theatre and the University of British Columbia Theatre. While blending fiction with fact, it conveys Muybridge’s obsession with cataloguing animal motion. The production started touring in 2010.

While it’s not possible to review a show before you’ve seen it, one can be inspired not just by descriptions of past productions but also with the company’s description of its artistic impulses,  Mission and Vision page,

We aim to defy audience expectations, and our love of theatrical spectacle drives us to work in expansive spaces – creating productions that go beyond the confines of the traditional stage to fully inhabit the venue and the audience. As with projects like No Exit and Tear the Curtain, the theatre itself is given a metaphoric presence and the role of the audience (the act of watching) becomes thematic content.

We have devised several plays where narrative is drawn directly from the venue; over the years our performances have inhabited a harbour, a swimming pool and a heavy equipment factory. This site-specific approach to storytelling extends to our work in traditional venues as well: our commissioned piece for the Arts Club Stanley Theatre is a film/theatre hybrid inspired by the Stanley’s dual identity as playhouse and historic cinema.

Frequently, our work looks to the past to define or uncover the present. These plays investigate the forces and historical figures that shape our perception of the modern world. We are fascinated by the role of technology in our lives, especially how it extends or replaces our physical senses. Invention, the obsession to change the world, the impulse to create, the spirit of the pioneer and the danger and promise of the frontier have been recurring themes in much of our work.

The tension between immediate and mediated remains a constant source of inspiration for a body of work that blends the boundary between stage and screen. The captivating, seductive allure of the ideal cinematic reproduction is in counterpoint with live presence, an athletic attempt at precision and the threat of the accidental. And while we are innovators in multimedia performance, we remain firm believers in the importance of live theatre to promote community interaction in the age of youtube.

As theatre-makers we continue to strive for a theatrical polyphony where narrative, choreography and design are developed in tandem, coexisting on stage without one element being subservient to the other. This continues to be a stimulating challenge within the expectation for popular theatre to be a purely narrative-driven art form.

Of course, this list is always in process. With each project we strive to build from what we know and to abandon it, jumping into territory we’ve never visited.

Getting back to this new show, the Electric Company Theatre’s May 15, 2013 news release provides some details about You Are Very Star,

The Electric Company, known for their innovative, spectacle-infused and thought-provoking work, is pleased to present You Are Very Star, an immersive, transmedia event. Part live theatre, part site-speciifc, interactive experience, You Are Very Star will take place at the H.R.
MacMillan Space Centre, Vancouver’s beloved Planetarium, June 12-29, 2013.

Part One: Orbiting the Cusp of Greatness (written by Craig Erickson with story development with Kevin Kerr), takes place in 1968, and will be experienced in the auditorium of the basement of the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre. The Interlude (by Georgina Beaty, Kevin Kerr, Naomi Sider and Veronique West), takes place in the Cosmic Courtyard and Lobby.  Part Two: Transcendence (written by Kevin Kerr; story development with Sarah Sharkey), takes place in the Star Theatre in 2048, a world where we live inside technology, and are able to create conscious copies of ourselves. You Are Very Star struggles with centuries-old questions as large as the universe: Why are we here? What is our purpose? And can we transcend this earth—physically or mentally?

“The journey of the piece is an exploration of our relationship to dream and memory and how we negotiate the world we inhabit in relation to our expectations of the future and our memories of the past,” says writer Kevin Kerr. “Some believe that accelerating advancements in technology are destined to bring about an ultimate transformation of human consciousness and the birth of a new species that can design its future evolution. It sounds crazy, and it probably is, but there’s something in us that believes we can “beat the system”, to cheat death, to ultmately solve the riddle, why are we here? I love that we quest for that answer, but I wonder about the costs incurred as we do.”

There are a couple of pictures from the production. Here’s one from a rehearsal,

Rehearsal in progress for Electric Company’s You Are Very Star. 2013, photo by Tim Matheson. Courtesy of Electric Company Theatre

Rehearsal in progress for Electric Company’s You Are Very Star. 2013, photo by Tim Matheson. Courtesy of Electric Company Theatre

This too is a rehearsal shot,

Chirag Naik, Marsha Regis, and Dalal Badr in rehearsal for Electric Company’s You Are Very Star. 2013, photo by Tim Matheson. Courtesy of Electric Company Theatre

Chirag Naik, Marsha Regis, and Dalal Badr in rehearsal for Electric Company’s You Are Very Star. 2013, photo by Tim Matheson. Courtesy of Electric Company Theatre

If you’re ready for an adventure, here are details about show times and ticket prices,

June 12 – 29, 2013

H.R. MacMillan Space Centre
1100 Chestnut Street, in Vanier Park
8:00pm Tues – Sun
2:00pm Sun
12:00pm Thurs June 20


Preview (June 12-14) $15
Regular $30
Weekday Matinee (June 20) $20

You can purchase your tickets here or call 1-800-838-3006.

1 thought on “You are very star—an immersive transmedia experience in Vancouver (Canada)

  1. Pingback: The Veil of Nature: Museum of Liminal Science (play & installation) in Vancouver (Canada) and You Are Very Star (experience) online « FrogHeart

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *