Paths Less Travelled is a research project exploring climate action and digital interactive performance. The project is funded by a SSHRC Exchange Grant as part of Dr. Sheila Christie’s work as CBUs SSHRC exchange university research chair in social sciences and the humanities (that’s a mouthful!).
One aspect of the project is to help audiences consider their own relationships to climate change and climate action. By staging the voices of self-styled activists, we intend to foster empathy for activists and help audiences understand those activists’ motivations. We expect that audiences will consider their own position with respect to climate action in the context of watching the performance and interacting with the project.
Online, interactive, verbatim theatre
Dr. Christie is an Applied Theatre practitioner, which means she works with groups and communities to create theatre which speaks to local needs and experiences. Verbatim theatre is one mode of Applied Theatre, where the script of the performance is based on real speech – in this case interviews with climate activists. For this show we have adapted the interviews extensively, trimming four separate hour-long videos into a 30-mintue script. In this way, verbatim theatre separates the words from their original speakers and contexts so that audiences can focus on the ideas emphasized in the script rather than the original teller and their circumstances. Verbatim theatre also allows us to bring these different voices together in conversation, providing audiences an opportunity to consider different perspectives in the ideas in the script.
A lot of Applied Theatre is also interactive, providing opportunities for audiences to tell their own stories, shape on-stage narratives, or participate in conversations around the performance. The pandemic has removed the option of in-person interactive performance, and severely limited other modes of live, theatrical performance. This project experiments with using an online, video conferencing platform as a space for interactive performance, and with using social media and a website as alternatives to in-person interaction. Audiences can interact with each other during performances, address post-performance prompts in social media, and give interviews that can be posted in video format on the website and/or incorporated into the audio of the performance. One goal is to have the final performance of the show reflect local voices alongside the actors’ scripted representation of the originally interviewed climate activists.
When the project is complete, we will develop a guide for other artists reflecting what we have learned about conducting interactive performance online. Dr. Christie will also write about this project as part of her research on Applied Theatre, and she may collaborate with members of the team to further develop the script and performance.
You are welcome to contact Dr. Sheila Christie through email (sheila_christie at cbu.ca) or the comments section on this website if you have questions, comments, or observations. Should you have questions and wish to speak with someone other than the researcher, feel free to contact any of the following:
- Co-chair of the Research Ethics Board at CBU, Dr. Erna MacLeod, at (902) 563-1124, email: erna_macleod at cbu.ca.
- Co-chair of the Research Ethics Board at CBU, Dr. Sandra Jack-Malik, at (902) 563-1339, email: sandra_jackmalik at cbu.ca
- REB Administrator, Nicole MacDougall at (902) 563-1107, email: ethics at cbu.ca