I Gave at the Office – Second Life

By Trent Scherer

I am not certain how a ‘live’ performance can be watched in a virtual reality world but I attempted to attend Z. Sharon Glantz’s I Gave at the Office.

If you have not experienced Second Life, it is a virtual reality world where you can be anyone and look like anything including fringe characters like a Furry, a Centaur, a Neko or as simple as being a Chinese male when you are a Caucasian female. It is a fantastic world that allows you to not only be a person completely different from yourself, but also allows you to fly as well as teleport to different locations. Imagine being able to vanish and appear at your destination in seconds. One can only dream of it in reality.

Unfortunately, this production started with building issues – only certain people such as the owner of a space can build and edit objects including walls, furniture, etc. For thirty-five minutes, the show was postponed by errors within scripts that made people do things that they were not supposed to do.

The event was a bit of a train wreck. This is due to there being no curtain to hide all the issues, the audience – started with about 10 of us and ended with 2 – has to sit and watch as props such as desks and chairs are ‘moved’ and put in place. SL has the ability of voice chat as well so we were all privileged to sit and listen as everyone has ideas of how to fix the problems.

I do understand that SL has a number of issues but this ‘production’ looked like they did no rehearsal or setup before the audience started showing up. In fact, I went to the venue (which was not in the location as advertised) and there were no props or the like in the space the day before.

Unfortunately, after 40 minutes – the show was meant to be only 45 minutes – I had to leave due to other commitments so I am uncertain if the production actually took place.

However, I still wished to talk about how Second Life (SL as it is called) can be its own performance space. Besides the ideas of staging a production within it,SL is already filled with many people who are not what they appear to be – think chat rooms but with a smoking body that you create yourself.

SL offers real friends within a false world – if you’re honest about who you are. Or you can have more than one avatar (person) if you wish. You can own land and built anything you wish on it. There are mature-themed spaces so be careful where you teleport to or you could be very shocked by what you see, as SL does have a seedy side.

SL has its own time (PST really) so people need to be aware of it when meeting friends from around the world in there, or, when, in this case, you’re trying to go to a performance in SL. And, when you’re in there, you can join interest groups, buy clothing (with Linden dollars) and remake yourself constantly into anything you can possibly dream. Dream big! Like theatre, it can be make-believe with a touch of reality.

When it comes to a ‘live’ performance of theatre in SL, I would like to see something like Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream since both lend themselves to such magic as faeries, sprites, and men with horse heads.

Any play with transformation might be interesting as an SL avatar can transform itself into anything within a few seconds. Thus, Second Life can make a play seem like a movie except you as audience are present within the world of its creation and while it’s being ‘performed’ live.

Details

-If another production is being done, I would send a message to Lailu Loon and ask her when it might be done. This production was a one night event.

0 thoughts on “I Gave at the Office – Second Life”

  1. Thank you for coming to see our production. We did perform it with success in June. I assume the performance you are speaking of is the one done as a workshop during the SLCC09 in San Francisco. We wished to show our “live” audience attending the convention how things work and how they can go wrong–a sort of “behind the scenes” look. Some of our actors were “live” in the conference, and others remained at their computers in their homes. But as you know some things in SL can be unpredictible, so we did experience problems during that particular show.
    There are many theatre companies in Second Life and each is discovering ways to make the live component vital and viable. We are all discovering successful ways to mount productions. You mentioned “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Too bad you missed Act Up’s Theatre’s beautiful production in August 2007. Several of the cast and crew from “I Gave at the Office” were in that show.
    We rely on people like you to help spread the word– and thus the interest in what we are doing. Audience feedback is important, and if your readers are interested in doing theatre in SL, there are active groups ready for them.

  2. The performance would have been in August, so I guess it would be the one that took place at the conference. It’s the one we got a press release and invite to.

    Cheers!
    megan

  3. Moxy said what I wanted to say but didn’t since I was going to be a bit more harsh. I don’t know of any professional critics who judge a play without having stayed to see it. Nor understand the complexity of the technology being used. Every critic of standing would have reviewed the play, the actors, the technical, the writer, director etc. So I judged this reviewer on his words and not the odd color of the background of the blog. And, regarding technical, I so agree with Moxy on his Apollo 1 – Apollo 11 analogy.

  4. @Lauren – I’m not actually sure what you’re referring to when you talk about Moxy’s comment, or the Apollo 1 – Apollo 11 analogy. I am guessing perhaps you’re referring to a comment someone left some where else regarding this review?

    Anyway, I did want to respond to your comments. As always, I am happy to get feedback from readers on what we’ve posted, so, first, thank you for taking the time to write.

    I do want to address your comment about professional critics who judge a play without having seen it. First, actually, you’d be surprised how many professional big-name theatre critics leave at the first intermission, because they feel they’ve gotten enough of a sense of the show, and they have a deadline to meet. But, even if they are the type of reviewer who sticks it out for the whole show (certainly the type I prefer), many would either leave, or give a scathing review, if a show was starting an hour later than had been advertised.

    It is not uncommon for reviewers to have plans after the end time of a show, we will often ask for the run time including intermissions so that we can plan the rest of our evening. It would certainly not be a surprise if, no matter when the show started, if it was going to end at a certain time, but it wasn’t over yet, someone would have to leave.

    It sounds, from Marin’s comment, as though technical difficulties were anticipated for this performance as part of the ‘presentation’ to the conference. If something like that is happening in the future, then I would suggest that it be explained in the press release/invitation.

    For the most part, theatre companies do not allow media to preview performances, but on the very rare occasions that they do, reviewers always take into account the fact that it’s a preview and are very forgiving of technical glitches. If the invitation had been presented in those terms, that part would have been either taken into account, or, we would have choose not to review the piece.

    Also, I would argue that Trent does understand the complexities of SL – certainly more than me, or than the majority of readers. We have to look at what we review from the perspective of our audience. If someone solicits us to review something, they understand that. They are doing so because they want to expose their work to this audience.

    As for the comment about reviewing the play, the actors, the technical, the writer, the director etc, all that was available to Trent, because of the late start time of the play, was the technical. And he did discuss that.

    Thank you for commenting and giving me an opportunity to respond to your concerns.

  5. Hi Lauren.
    I do understand that technical issues do happen. That’s why I assumed that there would have been a fast tech run-through, especially for SL since it it a tech world.

    I have known a few critics(reviewing my productions) who did leave at intermission and I’m not a huge fan of it either. If the show had started while I was there, I would have stayed. But as it was 7:15 EST I had to leave as I had another production to see. That’s why the majority of this review speaks of SL itself and not as much about this production.

    I would still very much like to see the play if it is done again. I have been looking into other theatres in SL as I’m truly fascinated with a live performance in a virual world.

  6. I must state that even the conditions of the stage at the Grand Ballroom were poor, along with the technological difficulties I who was in the show tripped over a wire and fell towards the back of the stage that was hidden by a curtain. To my surprise there was no stage behind the curtain at the Grand Ballroom at SLCC09. I fell of the stage, making it difficult to perform to say the least.

    I have done theatre in Second Life since 2007 and in 1st life since 1973. I know in first life actors are given the opportunity to prepare backstage at least one hour before performance. We were rushed on the stage when the performance should have already started.

    I think the cast showed their professionalism in the fact that regardless of the problems both in 1st life at the convention and in Second Life due to a very poor set-up the show went on.

    It would be interesting to do again, however as in first life we move on to the next show. It was filmed as best it could be in a theatre in the round during the performance in June and can be seen on this website: http://www.thinkerer.org/VirVilComedy/VirtVillComChLailu.htm

    And for those who were at the convention I am still in physical therapy as a result of the poor set-up at the Ballroom, the trip didn’t hurt me, the fact there was no stage behind the curtain did.

    I think in light of all the difficulties and poor planning to the needs of performing the play at the convention the cast did an excellent job improving what could not be heard, Lauren was fabulous taking on the task of covering for Moxy & Thunder. Everyone stayed in character. Regardless of the situation. To me that is a mark of professional actors and actresses.

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