Thursday 2 February 2012

The mechanics of the radio programme

We will be broadcasting from the radio station on campus to anyone listening on their internet radio. We will ask the spect-actors to call in when they have an idea of how to change the outcome of our touch tag play. Those who call will be placed in a cue and we will return their call via Skype [the technology does not exist in our radio station to have people call directly in or out of the radio station].

As with the subject matter that is being discussed in the play, I have also greatly enjoyed watching my students wrestle with the mechanics of how such a play could be produced given our limited resources and the fact that this has never been attempted before at St. Mary's.

The students' faces twist in thought and concentration as they work out the mathematics of how we can get the audience to participate [believe me, it is no easy task as I too have wrestled with these same difficulties along side them]. But they have persevered and prospered.

This first broadcast will certainly be a test run, though we do plan to thoroughly dress rehearse it with the students listening online and spect-acting to test the technology & our reaction to it. I hope that this initial run might spawn more of the same with the students taking full ownership of the programme as it is a student run radio station. And, although part of their Theatre for Development module, wouldn't it be a wonderful thing if they took off & ran with it?!!

One the night of the performance, we hope that the spect-actors will call in from the comfort of their own dorm or flats. We will also have classrooms open to the public with internet radio & Skype access alongside room facilitators who will work with the audience listening and help them 'jump in and take over' one of the roles.

St. Mary's University College Interactive Touch Tag Radio Programme

As I firmly believe that some of the best ideas are stolen, I am not ashamed to admit that I have lifted the latest project that the Third Year Applied Theatre students have embarked upon directly from Theatre for a Change. I hope that this imitation is a complement to the pioneers at TfaC who devised this programme from scratch.

We will endeavour to produce a piece of interactive touch tag theatre for the radio which is to be broadcast on the 27th of February on SMUC internet radio. One key aspect of this sort of theatre is that the subject matter must of of great importance to the audience. As in all forms of interactive theatre, a needs assessment must be conducted to make sure that the subject matter will resonate with the audiences.

This can be a simple as devising the piece with members of the chosen audience [as we have done with this piece, we are using university college students which we hope will reflect the wider concerns of the audiences who are listening].

Touch tag theatre - as I have blogged about in the past - differs from the better know forum theatre in that there are multiple protagonists and the goal is to achieve a balance on the stage rather than have the protagonist 'win' over her adversaries.

To that end, we have begun to carefully construct a script where all actors can be replaced in order to achieve a balance in the relationship. We are looking at the theme of 'Gender Equality' which is a hot topic in university once you do a bit of digging past the niceties.

I greatly enjoy watching my students wrestle with this subject matter represented on the stage. Once we get past the nervous laughs, the giggling and the mock disbelief that such unequal relationships exist, we begin to pinch the muscle of a problem that exists in our culture - that of miscommunication, media and hormones - that is often not recognized or valued.

There is a certain amount of belief that men & women have a pretty equal relationship between each other in the UK. But after having viewed several touch tag theatre pieces on 'gender equality' I see that young people in universities are just as confused and purposefully obfuscated with each other. Here in the UK, we have a rising pregnancy rate and a rising HIV rate. After watching these pieces, I begin to see why this might be happening.

The Forum Radio Programme on SMUC Radio