Monday, March 26, 2012

A Deeper Live Experience

Contributed by Sarah Cameron Sunde

I sit here at my computer trying to write this blog post that soon will be live for anyone who has access to the Internet to see. It’s miraculous, really. Hours from now, someone in Malaysia might stumble upon my post by googling just the right combination of words, and they might decide to reach out -- actually, let’s do this as a test: if you’re a person far from New York City who reads this post, please comment below. Just say hello and where you’re writing from and I’ll write you back. And who knows? Maybe we’ll form a connection that we can sustain. Maybe we’ll meet in person someday (I love introducing international theater artists to New York) and maybe we’ll decide to make a piece of work together....It’s possible. Anything is possible.

That’s what I love about the Internet - the serendipitous encounters with words and ideas that I would never have come into contact with 20 years ago. What I don’t love about the Internet is how it’s changed my ability to focus. I used to have a long attention span. But now, because of the sheer number of things I could explore at any give moment on my computer, I find myself more easily distracted and with a never-ending to-do list that feels unconquerable.

Since January of 2011, I’ve been working with a group of inter-disciplinary artists (a dancer, a composer, an actor, a visual artist and a video artist). Last week we finally decided on a name for ourselves after months of googling and searching for evocative words that no one in the world had come up with before. The possibilities were endless and yet completely limited.

With Lydian Junction (our brand new title), I am exploring a wide range of questions, but one that keeps emerging is this: how do we sustain live performance in our technology-dependent contemporary world? We’re attacking this question by going towards that place of fear. We use cutting edge video technology in service of making a deeper live experience for the audience. Many groups out there are exploring in similar tracks and because of the Internet, we have the possibility of sharing ideas faster than ever before. Our work can be in conversation with a global community.

And yet, in another way, theater is -- and will always be -- local. My theater friends in Hong Kong, New Zealand and Iraq might feel they know my work based on emails I send or what I post on my website. But until they actually experience it in its live form, they can’t fully know what it is, because they've never lived through the experience. In these tricky times we live in, maybe that is ultimately theater’s role? Whether locally or globally, live performance is something you still have to show up for. Blink and you’ll miss it. We’ll give you a unique experience - catch us if you can.


Sarah Cameron Sunde is a theater director who collaboratively creates inter-disciplinary performances for the stage and beyond. She is most known for directing world premieres of new work and U.S. debut productions of plays by international master playwrights (Brazil's Nelson Rodrigues and her own translations of Norway's Jon Fosse) at theaters such as 3LD Art & Technology Center, Rattlestick, 59E59, 45 Bleecker Theater among others. Awards include a Princess Grace Award and a Person-of-the-Year Award. Her current work is a true hybrid performance: UNTITLED #4 and will take over a The End - a new underground music venue in Greenpoint on March 31.

1 comment:

  1. So, reaching out. The question at hand is crucial, I think. I'm assuming it centers around an evolution of the technology in relationship to live performance. Streaming video with feedback to the performers. Cameras/audio that are integrated into the performance, and performance that has the possibility of real time interaction. And then, the adjustment to our understanding of what theatre is for. Live has to do with ceremony. The simple role of storytelling in theatre, I assume, has moved on to film and television for the most part. So, live needs to be "real", about something of which people actually need to be a part.

    Anyway, good luck, and I'd love to know more about your work.