Melbourne ― Australia ― 2013
PROMPTER is a work of magic-political-(quasi-science-fiction)-realism featuring the work of an interdisciplinary team of artists from Australia, Argentina, the UK, the USA and France, and written by journalist and writer Patrick Pittman and Hydra Poesis director Sam Fox.
The work plays out onstage through broadcast, theatre, dance and performance art, and features an online chorus streaming from the bedrooms of the internet.
Boundaries between media and audience are dissolving as an epidemic of performative compulsion spreads through bedrooms and living spaces across the globe. Journalists caught at the centre of the storm realise they have become the darlings of disaster and violence. Impossibly, irrationally, the collective gaze being funnelled back through their camera lenses seems to have taken on very real power.
Something is broken in the world of PROMPTER. We are caught in the maelstrom of instantaneous reporting, playing the game of guess-what-is-happening-while-itstreams-right-into-your-home. The only story we can’t predict is the one that’s still unfolding.
Patrick Pittman and Sam Fox
Technoturge, Media & Software Design
Allison Wyper, Dickie Beau, Jule Japhet Chiari, Brendan Ewing, Marcela Fuentes, James Berlyn, Tariro Mavondo, Deborah Robertson, Katya Shevtsov, Sete Tele
Lead Set and Costume Designer
Dave Miller & Kynan Tan
Kynan Tan, Ben Forster, Steve Berrick and Ainsley Canning
Dave Primmer Mentor
Dicky Eton R&D
Stephen Sewell (Writing), Richard Fabb (Broadcast and Journalism), Pacitti
Company Project Manager
Sam Fox and Francesca Hope
MEDIA ECOLOGY & TECHNOLOGY
Over a 5 year period beginning in 2008, Sam Fox and I co-designed a suite of software tools that allowed the cast to script, develop, rehearse and perform the show.
It’s worth noting that when we started developing PROMPTER:
- Zoom didn’t exist (it launched in 2011);
- YouTube streaming didn’t exist (it started in April 2011);
- Instagram didn’t exist (it launched October 2010);
- Skype was still only a paid, commercial, one-to-one user experience (it became free in June 2013);
Given the timings, we often felt like we had to pre-invent the wheel – not because we thought of these technologies first – but because those technologies were either unavailable to the public, extremely expensive, or both.
The rehearsal software was developed in Flash/Flex (shoot me now!) and allowed between 4 and 12 people to collaborate, with real-time script writing, notes, prompter style scrolling, live audio and video, and the ability to record all streams separately.
For the stage performances we developed live teleprompter software (again before it was affordably available) that ran on 4 iPads, with the added ability to push audio and video content to be played back synchronously with choreographed physical performance.
The rehearsal software was also adapted to allow a ‘chorus’ of remote internet ‘bedroom broadcasters’ to (in real time) perform on stage with the physical performers, across 4 stadium-style screens hung above the stage.
While the technologies used in PROMPTER seem quaint in the current streaming and collaborative media landscape, this show was in many ways on the bleeding edge of bringing them into the hands of political and collaborative performance art.