Thoughts on Podplays
December 02, 2010
by Zaira Petruf, Outreach Coordinator
Podplays is a work conceived by Adrienne Wong (Neworld Theatre) and developed in partnership with Martin Kinch and the Playwrights Theatre Centre. It involves five writer/compose teams commissioned to create four walkabout audio works. Podplays is a hybrid of technology and performance, mixing together sound, text and performance. Audience members load Podplays onto portable media players and step outside where the plays become a soundtrack to life on the streets of Vancouver.
Podplays becomes an increasingly relevant piece in the post-Olympics era as major structural developments that occurred during the festival, as well as those that are occurring as a consequence, have created major divides and imaginary boundaries that disconnect dialogue between various communities.
Am Johal, IOCC Board Chair explains that as part of the festival’s blueprint:
“The Olympic project amplified and accelerated development paths in the city which increased the divides in the city. The City of Vancouver’s social indicators report from 2009, based on numbers compiled from the 2006 census, shows a city divided.” (Georgia Straight). He further quotes Raquel Rolnik, the UN special rapporteur, as she states that “the processes of regeneration and beautification of the city usually focus on areas mostly populated by poor and vulnerable groups.”
The process of “beautification” of the spaces where the “poor and vulnerable groups” inhabit reflects the theme of liminal spaces between the “here” and “there”, a theme that the artists attempt to portray. A liminal state is characterized by a sense of in-betweeness and a sense of ambiguity and indeterminacy. The ever increasing new divides created by new city developments have direct effects on communities’ sense of identity. Podplays explores the dissolution of identities of those who are affected and pushes the audience, or in this case, the participants to dwell in a state of spatial disorientation.
“We need alternative versions of our city to the sanctioned, tourist-friendly versions” (A.Wong). The creators of the show encourage participants to become aware of the subjective nature of mapping and to avoid standard cartography which heavily relies on visual cues of neighborhood boundaries and that do not reflect the only ways in which individuals engage with space. By incorporating sound, text and performance, Podplays enables the participants to connect to a multilayered form of experience as these crafted cues evoke emotions, inspire the senses and spark the imagination.
I can’t wait to create my own map of Vancouver.
Zaira Petruf, Outreach Coordinator