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Sat 2 Apr 2011, by sharonclark
I meet with Tom on a Saturday morning at my place. He is armed with cake and recording equipment. I make tea and have a growing sense of just how little I know about creative technology. I ask him if he minds that we do not use the word 'platform' - I want it banned from our conversations. He nods and asks what word we should use. I wave the question away. Any word. Just not that one.
This is our first structured session in our arranged creative marriage. Clare Reddington has wisely put us together - me, a playwright and Tom, a wonderfully enthusiastic creative technologist. We are here to kick-start our residency at The Pervasive Media Studio where we are hoping to commence a collaboration that will, one day, result in a text-based piece of theatre called The Stick House. I apologise for my lack of knowledge about all things pervasive, he apologises for his lack of knowledge about how to write a play. Seems like the best place to start. We are simultaneously both expert and novice. And so... we familarize ourselves with each other's practice.
I talk about narrative, structure, character, style, voice... Tom asks bright, intelligent questions. I tell him how I always want to blindside my audience by going down a route they won't be expecting.That playwrights lead the story through character, that the people who inhabit the world we have created drive the narrative. That we want to make the ordinary extraordinary. He draws the first parallels. I talk to him about what fascinates me about writing for the stage, who has inspired me, what devices I have learnt, how I enjoy the moment of revelation, how I relish seeing an audience shift forward ever so slightly in their seats as the story unfolds. How I always want that audible intake of breath when the true path of the narrative unfolds. We plunge on.
I ask Tom about what influences him, what drives him, who inspires him - um, what he actually does? He is concise (more so than me), considered and non-patronising. I am liking his work already. He talks about open-sourcing, about how the work he does can be tested, provoked and interrogated through the internet, shared with an international community. No similarities between us there. My practice is a lonesome, singluar vision, until it hits the rehearsal room and then just a few voices from actors and director. He talks about pushing the practice further by always inventing and reinventing the methods he needs to make his work. He talks about thinking big, starting small and testing, testing, testing.
We are recording our session. We will record all our sessions and post them on this site so that people can listen in to as much or as little of our conversations as they need. Any challenges we face, any mistakes we make in our thinking will be open to all and that feels kind of liberating.
We feedback to each other what we have learned - some of it is blindingly simple but equally blindingly new to me. We talk about the environment of the piece, of how it will become another character, of how the technology can help plunge our audience physically and hopefully emotionally into the world I envisage creating. To many of you who engage with creative technologies on a daily basis this is less of a slap the head moment than a raised eyes moment, but to someone who is not familiar with your culture, this helped me give everything a redefined context. So please bear with my niaviety...
We give each other 'homework'. I give him the writings of Angela Carter to read. He is sending me links to the work he finds inspiring. I ask that we do not get constantly seduced by the latest advances in technology but start with the narrative that we will build together and then see what serves it best. He concurs but I know that we are both secretly fantastising about the possibilities.
It is a start....