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Research and Development
Pantheon Projects via Tarragon Theatre's Greenhouse Residency & Festival (2023)
Welcome to JANE. Log in, submit your partner’s pictures, and indulge in your deepest fantasies. When college computer-science whizz Martin goes bankrupt, creating JANE — a virtual reality deepfake pornography experience — seems like a good way to make a quick buck. But when the prototype gets out of his hands and spins out of control, Martin finds himself in a cesspool of dangerous secrets bubbling beneath the surface of his college campus. JANE is a play about consent, desire, and the consequences of our virtual actions.
From August of 2022 to January of 2023, JANE undertook its first round of development with Pantheon Projects through Tarragon Theatre's Greenhouse Residency and Festival program, which cumulated in a public showcase at the Tarragon Extraspace from January 6-15, 2023. This workshop was directed by Bryn Kennedy with lighting and projection design by Nicole Eun-Ju Bell, with actors Durae McFarlane, Brett Houghton, and Liz Der. The research and writing of this play was supported by the Ontario and Toronto Arts Councils, Nightwood Theatre, and Green Light Arts, with dramaturgy from Anna Chatterton. An early draft of this text was presented at Theatre Aquarius’s Brave New Works Festival in June of 2022, featuring Durae McFarlane, Greg Solomon, and Liz Der.
"This show is inspired by growing ethical concerns revolving around pornography deepfakes, set in a near-distant future where the technology to create and market exploitative experiences is more accessible and more widely understood. As a collective, we are fascinated by conversations about consent and the internet, and specifically by the anonymity of virtual platforms. By becoming-faceless online, do we absolve ourselves of moral obligation or consequence? How does the internet, as a space, allow us to understand and debunk taboos around heteronormativity, monogamy, kink, and sexuality in general?"
"Our goal is to create and develop a projections-heavy immersive stage-world to capitalize on the leeway between the blurring of virtual and physical worlds in this story. Instead of projecting directly onto a screen, as is conventional, we intend to design our projections as sculptural; by using light and projection on human bodies and other physical forms – that is to say, things with their own depth and texture already – we hope to explore the blurred lines between virtual and physical, past and present, and the different characters’ memories and experiences. We ultimately wish to give our audiences a chance to imagine, for themselves, how this technology works and feels. For instance, when each of the characters “engages” with the virtual reality prototype in the script, we will play with projecting different faces onto the other actors’ bodies to demonstrate the uncanny nature of deepfake pornography. The projections will help to create the ambiance of a world and technological landscape that is changing so quickly it’s impossible to keep up with — a world that is remarkably ephemeral, even as every action you take is saved and documented forever."
"As a collective, we are enthralled by the endless possibilities of integrating digital technologies into live performance, and especially with using these technologies to confront taboos about queer-femme identities and sexualities. Individually, we have worked with some of Ontario’s leading professional theatres and festivals (Stratford, Canadian Stage, Theatre Passe Muraille, Factory Theatre, Theatre Aquarius), focusing on intermedial, cross-disciplinary performance projects that tease the collision of new media with the theatre arts. Together, we yearn to combine our years of experience and diverse, unique skillsets to create provocative, challenging, yet accessible theatre for new generation audiences. We were all born in the late 90s and grew up with social media in its infancy; our coming-of-age coincided with the launch of major social media platforms (ie. Facebook, Instagram) and digital technologies (ie. Virtual Reality, video game design) that fundamentally shifted the way our generation wrote and consumed media. We were the generation actively shaped by these technologies; we learned to use them, communicate through them, and even to find and express love through them. At the end of the day, we aspire to make theatre for audiences like us using visual and textual languages they understand. It is with this creed that we come to Tarragon Theatre’s Greenhouse Festival."
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