Another Language Performing Arts Company has been working on refining the relatively new art of online performances for the better part of a decade. Their most recent foray into the field has them in a new working environment that adds its own constraints, but they’re also reaching inward in several senses and offering a more intimate performance than before.
Another Language coined “InterPlay” as the term for its unique telematic perfmances, which are performed in front of an audience as well as broadcast in real time over the Internet. Their first “InterPlay,” Intransitive Senses, was produced in 2003 around the group’s core: founders Jimmy and Elizabeth Miklavcic, in addition to performers including local poet Alex Caldiero and musician Kate MacLeod. Since that first performance, Another Language’s annual InterPlays have taken on heady subjects such as time (Nel Tempo di Sogno, 2007), the carnival (Carnivale, 2008) and human anatomy (AnARTomy, 2009). Those InterPlays were interactive in the sense that performers at other sites were able to send their own audio and video feeds to be mixed into the show on the fly.
Although this performance won’t have the interactive element, the Miklavcics are still breaking new ground: They’ve never taken on a subject as close to home as this year’s Duel-Ality Version 1.0. It’s a meditation on their working relationship as a married couple as well as their work at the University of Utah’s Intermountain Networking and Scientific Computation Center, home of some of the most high-performance computers in the world. It’s very personal, while at the same time very “meta,” using the medium of the computer to look at itself. The characters Duel (Jimmy) and Ality (Elizabeth) aren’t strictly autobiographical, but the work they do at their workstations, and the banter that ensues, has an element of the real. “It’s like My Dinner With Andre, but high-tech,” Elizabeth jokes.
Subjects like multicast, unicast and how the brain assembles colors aren’t quite the stuff of Wallace Shawn, but with the limited palette of the small theater surroundings, this duo is able to create evocative mental pictures with the aid of rear-projected, high-end video and music. As usual, their dialogue is brilliant, but without the sometimes-cluttered array of multiple inputs from other sites, this performance has an element of clarity some of their previous shows lacked. This duo bears a resemblance to some of Samuel Beckett’s characters in plays like Waiting for Godot, in which the most mundane pondering can lead to questioning their entire existence.
With a new home in the INSCC’s VisLab (Visualization Lab), Another Language won’t have the problem of crafting every aspect of its performance and then trying to get them to “scale” in the theater on the building’s first floor. “We look forward to a 2.0 version of this performance,” notes Jimmy, hinting at something able to grow organically.
Rather than have a crew help produce the technical aspects of the show, they are producing the show themselves while they act in it. “[It’s] totally self-sufficient; we’re hoping to be able to take it on the road,” Elizabeth explains.
The dualities they explore aren’t just those between co-workers and male and female, but also human and computer, software to hardware, the live creativity and projected elements that have long existed in their works, and the relationship between performers and audience.
Another Language celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2010, and since the beginning, the group has pioneered transmutations of various performance forms. The words “The Search Is the Journey” flash across the screen at the end of the show’s intro; it’s just one more step on Another Language’s performance journey. Jimmy says, “In 2.0, we might try to branch out into mobile devices.”
The performance will be broadcast live via Access Grid videoconference software, as well as the U’s Second Life island.
ANOTHER LANGUAGE PERFORMING ARTS COMPANY:
DUEL-ALITY VERSION 1.0
Intermountain Networking & Scientific Computing Center
VisLab Black Box Theater
155 S. 1452 East
University of Utah
Feb. 25-26, 7 p.m.; Feb. 27, 4 p.m.;
March 4-5, 7 p.m.; March 6, 4 p.m.
$7 general, free for all students