DESKTOP THEATER ARCHIVE
This archive contains documentation of our time "on the street," revealing a range of experiments we've instigated in online chat and game spaces.
It is organized in five sections:
PLAYS, IMPROVS, and ACTIVITIES
Since we began our experiments in 1997, we have collected scripts, logs, stills and, more recently, Quicktime Movie versions of the live events. The arrangement of these documents, roughly mirrors the chronological progression of Desktop Theater practice.
This archive might appear to be comprehensive, but it is not Desktop Theater. Desktop Theater is at its core a live, immersive, and often unexpected encounter.
The transmissive friction and concentrated creative play brought about by these circumstances cannot be reconstituted afterward. Instead, these artifacts help us to remember and reflect on the performances. Rather than faithful reflections of Desktop Theater works, these documents should be taken as notes, scraps, and an endless "to do" list - suggestions and inspirations for new directions.
Our first Desktop Theater production was an adaptation and performance of Samuel Beckett's well-known drama "Waiting for Godot" in an internet chat environment. That early experiment involved a virtuosic triggering of quick key expressions and the cutting and pasting of text from a word processing program in well-paced intervals.
Since then we have compressed several other written works, as well as developing original material for a growing international troupe of actors. The works found in this section encompass philosophical treatise, Fluxus performance art and a 21st Century morality play about genetic engineering, in addition to a restaging of "waitingforgodot.com."
Avatar-based improvisations represent the next step in our theatrical inventions. Each of these improvisations documented here was spawned by an initial idea which led to a fast and furious avatar production session, and culminated in an "outing," ending with an analysis of what occurred.
At times we were both "in" on the concept. At other times, one of us instigated a narrative scenario & the other following along. In many instances our presence provoked passionate discussions of online performativity, identity and ethics.
Each of these interventions began with the question, "What would happen if we...?"
These Desktop Theater pieces represent alternative models for online play. They are inspired in equal parts by the crude, yet wondrously customizeable Palace software environment, and our lifelong enjoyment of poetry, symbolism, and ritual.
This intense period of activity has been fueled by the continuous enthusiasm and commitment of an ever-expanding internationally distributed Desktop Theater Troupe. Meanwhile, the Genetically Enhanced Palace has grown beyond its initial simple graphic stagesets and general meeting point to include theme avatar dispenser rooms and places in which to dream.
Poetry is at the core of these enacted verses. An intimate performance that was a gift from loki to sorrel contrasts with the intricate hype of lines made from SPAM (unsolicited email correspondance). The SPAM poems, performed in the back alleys and hallways of the Genetically Enhanced Palace, are a method of critically and pleasureably recycling digital junkmail.
During 2000-2001, Desktop Theater introduced our practice into classrooms and community centers throughout Southern California. At Cal State University, San Marcos, UCIrvine, UC San Diego, San Diego High School, and REACH LA, we encouraged young artists and writers to work collaboratively and produce public performances and social interventions. The few examples included here suggest the myriad possibilities within Desktop Theater to embody historical literary and mass media texts.