Augmented Reality ASL for 11:11 at Theatre Passe Muraille

In November 2020, Theatre Passe Muraille produced a workshop as a part of their Accessibility Labs (funded through the Toronto Arts Council’s Open Door Project). This workshop connected the development of Samson Bonkeabantu Brown’s play 11:11, directed by Tsholo Visions Khalema and choreographed by Mafa Makhubalo, with a collaboration between technology collectives Toasterlab and Cohort to experiment with the use of augmented reality to support the American Sign Language interpretation and live captioning in consultation with Courage Bacchus, Marcia Adolphe, and Carmelle Cachero, Jenelle Rouse, and Gaitrie Persaud. The collaborators spent a week building an interpretation distribution system that used affordable technology to create a proof-of-concept experiment to see what it would look like to move both text and sign interpretation from just offstage into the visual field of the performance.

Using Cohort’s media distribution app developed for the synchronous delivery of media to mobile devices, this project explored live and pre-recorded versions of performance interpretation for a Deaf audience. These were displayed on the audience’s phone screens and in simple augmented reality headsets. The goal was to explore expanding the opportunities for an audience to access interpretation, making the experience more customizable through different forms of engagement, and seeking to provide more universal access across all performances by making a recorded alternative available. The workshop also explored the dramaturgical and scenographic implications of adding this information into the direct visual field of an audience member.

This article, in the form of a compiled oral history of the workshop, documents the process, the findings, and the follow-up questions that the team identified over our short time together to provide a baseline for further exploration into the use of mixed-reality technologies in support of accessible performance spaces. It considers situated identity and Deaf culture in relationship to translating interpreted performance to a technological solution as it both outlines the practical steps that allowed this to happen and explores artist, interpreter, and technologist perspectives on what was learned.

Canadian Theatre Review
Volume 190, Spring 2022

Co-Authors:

  • Tsholo Visions Khalema
  • Samson Bonkeabantu Brown
  • Courage Bacchus
  • Jacob Niedzwiecki
  • Indrit Kasapi

Theatrical Calls to Climate Action: Excerpts of a Conversation

This article excerpts a discussion about performance and climate action that took place during the annual Canadian Association for Theatre Research (CATR) conference, Partition/Ensemble 2020. Ten artists, activists, and academics share their experiences of using performance as a resource in climate-change action. They explore challenges and tactics, detail examples of theatrical climate action, and urge other artists and activists to use the tools of theatre and performance to tell the stories of climate collapse. This article reflects the groundswell of creative energy being brought to the climate crisis, providing an inspiration for others who want to use their artistic skills to support climate action.

Theatre Research in Canada
Volume 43 Issue 1, 2022

Co-Authors

  • Sheila Christie (Lead) – Drama and English, Cape Breton University, Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Beth Osnes – Theatre and Dance, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, United States
  • David W. Geary – Indigenous Digital Filmmaking, Capilano University, North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • Dennis D. Gupa – Department of Theatre and Film, University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  • Jordan Hall – Motion Picture Arts, Capilano University, North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • Katie Welch – Theatre Research, Cape Breton University, Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada
  • Kendra Fanconi – Artistic director of The Only Animal, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • Kimberly Skye Richards – School of Journalism, Writing, and Media, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • Scott Sharplin – Independent theatre artist and activist, Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada

The Ethical Turn in Sustainable Technical Theatre Production Pedagogy (Theatre Topics)

In this note, I describe an ethical turn in technical theatrical production. Over the past decade, theatrical production’s intersection with environmentally sustainable priorities has evolved from the practical approach of improving conventional technical production materials and methods to examining theatre’s role in the creation of a sustainable society. Practitioners and teachers of technical production and design see an essential role for our work in this shift. Training within higher education also needs to reflect this new perspective. It is not sufficient simply to build a more sustainable set or select a more energy-efficient lighting fixture; rather, we need the critical capacity to identify and prioritize imperfect solutions to complex systems that extend far beyond the theatre walls.

Theatre Topics
Volume 31, Number 2, July 2021
Johns Hopkins University Press

Going Green for High School Theatre

An introduction to greening the production process geared towards high school theatre programs and makers.

Teaching Theatre
September 2019

Collaborative Field, Divisive Times

Written based on my experience as Curator for the US Exhibition at the 2019 Prague Quadrennial and as partner in the North American Cluster at the PQ, this article discusses the spirit of international exchange an collaboration among artists during political unrest that persists half a century after the Prague Quadrennial began.

TD&T is the journal of the US Institute for Theatre Technology

TD&T
Fall 2019

Scene (Journal) Volume 6 Number 1

Arts-driven Sustainability and Sustainably Driven Arts

With the founding of the National Endowment for the Arts, Lyndon Johnson stated that ‘[…] we reveal to ourselves and to others the inner vision which guides us as a nation. And where there is no vision, the people perish’. Today, we are facing the largest existential threat to human civilization as a result of human-made climate change. Research into the three dimensions of sustainable development articulated by the UN’s Brundtland Commission reveals that the arts have positive impacts in each area. The arts are drivers of social cohesion, and build our individual and shared identities. The arts contribute to the economy significantly above the rates of public and private funding allocated to them, especially at a local level. And, by congregating people together and sharing ideas have real and significant potential positive environmental impacts. These impacts offer evidence that society can become more sustainable with arts at the centre.

Scene
Vol 6, No 1

Where Is the Hope? An Anthology of Short Climate Change Plays

As co-director of this product with Chantal Bilodeau, I contributed an essay about the 2017 iteration of the Climate Change Theatre Action and the development of a design component.

Where is the Hope? An Anthology of Short Climate Change Plays is our collection of fifty plays commissioned for Climate Change Theatre Action 2017. A creative response to the question “How can we inspire people and turn the challenges of climate change into opportunities?” the plays offer a diversity of perspectives and artistic approaches in telling stories that may point to a just and sustainable future.

Protocol Cover Spring 2017

Recent Greening Efforts in Canadian Production

Writing on behalf of the Canadian Institute for Theatre Technology, this essays shares recent efforts (as of 2017) in theatrical production to reduce negative environmental impacts. And the advancement of an ecological mindset across Canada.

Protocol
Spring 2017
Volume 22, No 2

Arts, the Environment, & Sustainability

This essay looks at changes related to the environment and issues of sustainability and the role that the arts may play in positively impacting those changes over the next 10–15 years.

Excerpted from Arts & America: Arts, Culture, and the Future of America’s Communities. This essay looks at the role of arts and issues of environment and sustainability over the next 10 to 15 years. The full book of essays can be purchased in the Americans for the Arts online store.

Theatre is no Place for a Plant

Published in Landing Stages – Selections from the Ashden Directory of Environment and Performance, a series of selected readings is compiled from the archived Ashden Directory of Environment and Performance (2000-2014), and gives an insight into the project and perspectives addressing the emerging arts and sustainability theme.

A Primer on the Relationship of Policy, Sustainability, Funding and the Arts in the United States

From the Reader of the Conference Sustainability & Culture – Sustainable Cultural Management

The term “sustainability” is primarily associated with the theories and the approaches of ecology. The international conference “Sustainability and Culture: Sustainable Cultural Management” was intended to shed light on yet another aspect of this very fertile perception of contemporary reality. The first day of the conference was intended to highlight the great potential and the richness in the field of culture, as well as the ways in which culture can contribute to a global and international sustainable perspective, not in theory, but in practice. On the second day of the conference, representatives of cultural organisations and public cultural institutions, artists and art and culture theorists, cultural managers, and representatives of educational and cultural establishments presented innovative and successful models of sustainable cultural management, with impressive results which point to the path to follow in future.

Theatrical Production’s Carbon Footprint

From the book Readings in Performance and Ecology edited by Wendy Arons and Theresa J. May

This ground-breaking collection focuses on how theatre, dance, and other forms of performance are helping to transform our ecological values. Top scholars explore how familiar and new works of performance can help us recognize our reciprocal relationship with the natural world and how it helps us understand the way we are connected to the land.

CSPA Sustainability Survey: Fusebox Festival

The Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts partnered with the Fusebox Festival for their 2012 program to creatively evaluate and explore both the environmental and cultural impacts of producing a festival. The project involved members of the festival’s community, including the festival’s directors, audience members, visiting artists, and staff. Data was gathered primarily to produce a dynamic data visualization to be accessible online and in tangible form at the festival hub.

Through surveys, direct observation, and box office data, we set out to examine the relationship between festival activities, cultural interest and infrastructure, and hints of economic effects of the festival. In short, we were interested in the idea of ‘cultural off-setting.’ Is producing an inter/national arts festival locally beneficial, both culturally and economically? And, what are the costs to the environment to produce such a festival?

CSPA Quarterly - Contributing Editor

The CSPA Quarterly is a publication arm of the Center for Sustainable Arts. It is meant to give a longer format and deeper space for reflection than some online platforms provide, and to reflect the myriad ways in which sustainability in the arts is discussed, approached and practiced. The publication features reviews, interviews, features, artist pages, essays, reflections and photos. It is a snapshot of a moment in time, a look at the many discussions in sustainability and the arts through the lens a particular theme. It is part of a rigorous dialogue.