After receiving the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s “Building Demand for the Arts” grant in late 2015, ACT Theatre and artist-in-residence Lucia Neare have directed their energies toward understanding Seattle’s growing tech industry and how theatre can resonate with “geek culture.”
“Our goal,” says Ms. Neare, “is to innovate a new set of possibilities, practices, or, even, performance plans that will help theatre evolve into the Digital Age—with stories more relevant and experiences more compelling to 21st century audiences.”
Neare has created and will lead the ACTTech Think Tank—an amalgam of 21 interns who will devote the next six months to investigating theatre’s relationship with evolving technologies. Their mission includes exploration of the local tech culture, the rise of gaming, and understanding the artistic priorities of the youth-based tech community—including gaming, cosplay, and nerd/fan culture.
“Fully half of Americans engage in some form of gaming culture,” Neare points out. “At the same time, the audience for American theatre is hardly growing, and it’s also aging. This cultural think tank will combine research with deep brainstorming of new possibilities for civic engagement and theatre-making in the 21st century.”
ACTTech Think Tank draws creatives of all ages, backgrounds, and areas of passion. “The Building Demand for the Arts Program is just what it sounds like,” Neare says—“an opportunity to grow demand for the arts among new and underserved audiences. Our cultural think tank is uniquely positioned to investigate new ways of delivering theatrical experiences to millennial ‘techies,’ gamers, and other 21st century audience segments. Because this grant allows us time to synergistically investigate and ‘live’ in the questions, it seemed wise to gather disparate perspectives.”
This six-month program of inquiry, exploration, and idea-making brings participants from New York, Vancouver, and Washington State to engage in a creative conversation about narrative and theatre-making, play, technology, and the quality of public life. ACT’s 2016 think tank includes Ned Beebe, Lauren Brazell, Lacy Katherine Campbell, Esme DeCoster, Robert Doering, Andrew Forrest, Malie Fujii, Jasmine Kozak Gilroy, Parker Kennedy, Leicester Landon, Josh Langager, Dara Lillis, Casey Middaugh, Erin Murray, Constantin Parvulescu, Timothy J Rogers, Leigh Shaw, Ranleigh Starling, Steven Tran, Margaret Toomey, and Bronwen Williams.
Follow the process of the ACTTech Think Tank on http://www.acttheatre.org and ACT’s social media pages.
About Lucia Neare
Lucia is a 21st-century pioneer of larger-than-life theatre in public spaces. Her mission is as much social and political as artistic: to confront urban dilemmas with the power of free theatre, and nurture community by inspiring ferocious joy in the public realm. Since 2006, Neare has presented dozens of large-scale site-specific works in the Pacific Northwest. Infused with a North American magical realism, her company’s works have engaged tens of thousands. These productions bring together diverse populations of all ages, (community organizations, businesses, as well as county and municipal departments) through a radical spirit of engagement. The Doris Duke Charitable Trust named Lucia one of its inaugural Impact Artists in 2014. More at lucianeare.org
About ACT Theatre
Located in Seattle’s Downtown Historic Theatre District, ACT is home to five performance spaces under one roof. Since 1965, ACT has been a destination for experiencing new voices, stories, and art. ACT is steadfast in its dedication to producing work with contemporary playwrights and local performing artists through its Mainstage Play series, ACTLab producing partnerships, and Young Playwrights Program. With more than 450 performances a year, ACT is a community hub where artists and the public connect about today’s issues and ideas, and celebrate the shared experience.
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