Game Play: The Only Video Game-Themed Festival You Will Ever Need, Week 3
I am seeing all the shows at The Brick’s Game Play festival this month so you don’t have to! Just kidding, you should go. You don’t have to go, but it would be nice if you did.
Seriously, support the arts.
Let us take a look at this week’s offerings, shall we?
foci + loci
Created and Performed by Chris Burke
And Tamara Yadao
I am going to get the most abstract show out of the way first, since I suck at reviewing those kinds of shows.
foci + loci is the brainchild of artist/musician Tamara Yadao and Chris Burke, a.k.a. “glomag”. In this performance piece the duo simultaneously play two games like musical instruments. They utilize the limitations of the game-play to experiment with visual and aural aesthetics.
The first two segments of the show get much mileage out of LittleBigPlanet’s user-created content. In the opening movement, the journey of Sackboy is merged with a rambling monologue about Thomas De Quincey while gameplay from Minecraft accompanies. The second movement takes Sackboy into a darker world with piano-like elements while footage from Halo provides a counterpoint. Both acts are surreal but ambient symphonies of sight and sound.
In the third segment of the show, Yadao and Burke lead the heroes of Shadow of the Colossus and Red Dead Redemption through vast, lonely landscapes. As the avatars wander, a poem is read in voice-over: “Years from now this path will be paved. This path that goes…where?” The characters never reach a destination but they keep moving. The borders of their own worlds prevent them from ever meeting, but the poetry gives them a connection that is almost heartbreaking.
This show was highly experimental, to say the least, but the risks paid off. It is interesting to see video games being used in a non-traditional way to create something as weird and beautiful as foci + loci.
Well, I got through the highbrow stuff in one piece. Bring on the boobie tassles!
Produced by Chris Chappell
Let me start by saying that there is a difference between burlesque and stripping. Stripping alone does not burlesque make. A burlesque act tells a wordless story with creative flourishes and dashes of cheeky humor. Good burlesque goes beyond titillation to be creative, inventive, and emotionally evocative.
I just wish someone had explained that to the row of dudebros who sat in front of me.
Hosted with deadpan, geeky humor by Makin’ Whoopie and Dick E. Lovejoy, Nerdlesque returned to The Brick for a special video game themed performance. The acts this go around were so impressive, Gypsy Rose Lee herself would have been proud (given how prolific Miss Lee’s life was, she could have been a gamer, too.). Take Evelyn Vinyl, who began her routine as a slumped, snarling imp from Doom and ended it as a gyrating, tassle-twirling force of nature. Then there was Dangrrr Doll, who performed as Tetris. Yes, Tetris. I won’t say how she did it, but believe me it was awesome. Headlining the evening was Iris Explosion who brought Mrs. Pac-man to life in a way only the dirtiest and most playful of minds could have imagined.
Oh, but there’s more! Remember last month when I mused on the possibility of an Angry Birds inspired routine? Well, they totally pulled it off! In a special interactive segment, three audience members flung Angry Bird plushies at Mr. Lovejoy, who was obliged to remove an item of clothing for each hit. The players ran out of birds before the game could earn an “M” rating, but just being able to reference casual gaming and male nudity in the same sentence makes me believe in dreams again.
Nerdlesque appears at The Brick every other month, or whenever the hell they feel like it. Check out their Facebook page for updates: for every new “like”, Dick E. Lovejoy will remove an item of clothing (dare to dream!).
Red Cloud Rising
Created by Gyda Arber
Finally, we have a show that takes the audience out of hipsterly Brooklyn and throws them into a world of corporate intrigue in Lower Manhattan.
Red Cloud Rising is an interactive event in which the “audience” is sent through the winding streets and dark secrets of the Financial District. The game begins in a comfy conference room where you are assigned the part of a potential employee for a company called Bydder Financial. You and the other recruits are then sent out into Wall Street for a “team building exercise” with nothing but your cel phones and your team’s collective brainpower to aid you. As the game progresses, a mysterious group known as Red Cloud makes their presence known, throwing your team off the path. New facts emerge indicating that all is not what it may seem.
Creator Gyda Arber has crafted an engrossing game rich in plot and suspense. Arber makes use of existing Wall Street landmarks (the Trinity Churchyard, the Canyon of Heroes) to enrich the mythology of Bydder and Red Cloud. The real joy of this show, though, comes in the dynamics of the group as each person brings a different flavor to the progress of the game. In a crazy world like New York City, where friends barely stop to say “hi”, it’s great to have something like Red Cloud Rising to bring total strangers together.
Plus, there are free drinks at the end!
Game Play runs until the end of this week. Check The Brick’s website for tickets and showtimes.
Amanda LaPergola tweets @LaPergs. If she performed burlesque, she would either portray Rose from Street Fighter or Nemesis from Resident Evil.
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