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Unlimited Digital Storytelling Workshop 1: Foundations

A series of Unlimited Digital Storytelling workshops has begun, using their latest show The Noise. As one of the Insight Journalists, I’ll be taking you on a journey through the test bed that aims to co-create a reflection of the live theatre experience in digital form using the latest technology & innovations.

Held in one of the rehearsal rooms at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, the group gathered with anticipation of unearthing the hidden treasure that lay within this voyage of adventurous discovery. Introductions followed as each person shared a bit about their favourite children’s book, some unheard of and others famous, from mystery themes to information books – it was clear how much wealth of expertise and insight everyone had to offer in their enthusiasm. Reminiscing on reading them brought back happy memories for many, remembering the role of the map in the front cover or illustrations in the story experience.

Reading through The Noise play script was next – a sci-detective thriller set on a remote British outpost close to Antarctica about memory, secrets and the effects of sound on human beings. Each character was read by a different person, and having never seen or done this before, it certainly brought to light the interpersonal skill and interactive nature of theatre storytelling. Background sounds began to play as each character read out their parts in turn. It brought home the effect of sound and music when the character voices changed halfway through, a new dimension and depth to each emerged.

Just as the group had journeyed through different spaces in the play script, it was time to physically move into those different spaces around the rehearsal room. First up was the Whitley Island Police Station arranged into two rows of chairs on either side of the space. With flip charts at the ready, a discussion began about the accessibility of play scripts in all its facets. Useful insights emerged which would aid the digital storytelling form – revisiting story parts, reliving jokes between characters, letting the character words digest before seeing the live theatre performance to enjoy it more fully – especially if its a brand new production with no historical expectations.

The Den, otherwise known as the chillax zone, was the group’s second destination. Sofas, bean bags, and cushions randomly filled the space as each of us spent some time filling out research questions around our reading and digital behaviours, likes and dislikes.

With cups almost dry, there was time for a quick top-up before entering the final destination; The Pub. In keeping with British culture, socialising commenced with conversation centred around our favourite digital applications. Some of these included music driven stores like iTunes, book readers, QR code readers to experience augmented reality, map navigation, and social media sharing.

The workshop ended with a digital menu to choose aspects that we would most want to tell us and engage us with a story. It concluded what had been a varied first adventure, travelling with a bunch of friendly companions who were just as excited about what we were pioneering for theatre as me. Stay tuned for next month’s jigsaw piece to the puzzle!