Game Play: A Celebration of Video Game Performance Art, Week 2

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One thing I am starting to notice with this theater festival is that much of the work is more conceptual. That is to be expected when experimenting with gaming technology to create new dramatic forms. Still, not going to lie, I feel a little bit out of my element trying to review such forms. They are a little too arty and a little too beyond my sphere of knowledge. I only took enough art classes to learn that Andy Warhol was a sellout, and that’s about it. Bear with me, because these reviews are going to be a little rough.

Created by Jason Robert Bell and Robert Infurnari

Mastermind was conceived, performed, and Frankensteined by artist Jason Robert Bell. He has an MFA from the Yale School of Arts, so he must know what he is doing. Bell began work on this video project while an illness kept him homebound, and all of the work was filmed or collected from the confines of Bell’s home. Much of Mastermind involves the use of Chroma Key technology, which is applied most imaginatively in Double Face Fantasy (which can be viewed here).

And…that’s about all I got. I really don’t know what else to say. According to the program notes, Mastermind was inspired by Herman Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game, which I have never read. I enjoyed the show, it was visually stimulating, but I feel like I should say more than just that. What should I do? Should I go the Armond White route? Should I reference some obscure art films and vague right wing philosophy before tearing Mastermind a new one and proclaiming Transformers 2 a superior narrative?

No! I reject the way of Armond White! He is a false prophet! I denounce his criticism and his trollery! My way is just and true, while Armond White feeds on the darkness and consorts with demons! Demons, I tell you! I will not emulate the Demon Lover! Armond White is neither my lord nor my savior. He is the Prince of Lies!

What I will do is encourage you to check out Bell’s website and his work. Otherwise, I’ve got nothing.

Romeoo And Julietet
Adapted from Shakespeare
And directed by Eddie Kim

Created by Eddie Kim — artist, teacher and founder of EK Machinima Theater — Remeoo and Julietet is an adaptation of the famous Shakespearean tragedy staged entirely in the city of Dalaran in the World of Warcraft.

Great. Another thing outside of my realm of knowledge. No, not Shakespeare; he’s easy enough to understand. His stuff was all poetry and vagina jokes. I know nothing about World of Warcraft. I have never played it. I know that makes me a poor excuse for a geek, but there are so many things to geek out over, who has time for them all? If I offend any WoW fans with my limited knowledge, I apologize in advance.

The characters, camera work, and voice-overs are executed by a group of children: students of Kim from the Pierrepont School in Westport, Conneticutt. The classic tale unfolds in a completely digital realm, with avatars fighting, wooing and dying. Romeoo hails from the Horde, while his beloved Julietet comes from the Alliance: a faction that has been at war with the Horde for generations. Also, Julietet’s parents were really, really small. That has nothing to do with the play, but it just stuck out to me? Is that a regular occurrence in Wow: dwarf-like creatures birthing full-sized adults? This inquiring mind wants to know.

Due to the limited animation of the characters, it was difficult to get in to the more emotional aspects of the story (the star cross’d lovers could only blow kisses to each other). The story did come to life in the handful of action sequences and at the Capulet’s party (nothing is funnier than World of Warcraft characters dancing. Nothing). I would like to see Eddie and the kids make another attempt at a WoW play with one of Shakespeare’s comedies or a battle-heavy history (may I suggest Henry VI Part 1: the one where Joan of Arc has sex with demons. Seriously.) Overall, I like the idea of kids learning about theater through innovative means, and I encourage EK Machinima Theater to continue in their mad experiments.

And, that’s it. That’s all my brain can fart out this week. I hope it made some sort of sense.

Amanda LaPergola tweets @LaPergs.

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