I believe if we put our energy out to the universe, gateways to new realms will open up to us. So it was with this mind I attended four intensive days at the Director’s Lab North http://www.directorslabnorth.com/ in June with over thirty inspiring stage directors from across North America.
Among those people was a dynamic and impressive theatre artist by the name of Elenna Mosoff. Elenna is the Associate Producer of the award-winning Acting Up Stage Company as well as co-founder of a bold new artistic company, called The Mission Business http://www.themission.biz/
At the Lab, Elenna introduced us to the Mission Biz’s first initiative: ZED.TO. This was designed to be an “immersive, interactive laboratory-based narrative adventure” about the impending 2012 apocalypse. It was marrying live event theatre with on-line gaming, media, social media and science.
Elenna explained that this project was spawned because contemporary theatre in Toronto was staid, if not even archaic and in order to thrive, it needed to be bolder, more experimental, more media savvy, and more inclusive. So…. The Mission Biz’s intention was to create the beginning of a narrative about Byologyc – a fictional lifestyle pharmaceutical company. Then, they would let the narrative unfold itself with the help of the audience and online participants in three phases (the Toronto Fringe, Nuit Blanche and the Grand Finale in November). I remember thinking that the project was courageous and ambitious, but also perhaps a little mad. I saw images of role-playing gamers who couldn’t distinguish the game from reality going postal. It sounded more like a script for Hollywood than actual theatre in Toronto.
A week later I got an invitation to become a member of the cast at the Toronto Fringe Festival. Thankfully, I was intrigued enough to say yes. The next thing I knew instead of attending traditional rehearsals, I was being sent on “character dates” in order to establish relationships with the other staff members of Byologyc and to develop my own back-story. It didn’t take long before I began to question what was real and what was fiction (such as, did a stranger really find my iphone on the street or was it set up as part of the mission????).
The Mission Business wanted the story to develop as organically as possible and it has.
Performing at the Fringe turned out to be a blast and much to my delight the “live event” was a huge success. In the production, the pharmaceutical company Byologyc released its newest product – “ByoRenew” but things went terribly wrong before the end of launch. Sirens blasted while audience were swabbed for DNA, and then forcefully evacuated from the club only to be screamed at by a crazy EXE protester on Bathurst St.
The production did extremely well, and was awarded with numerous awards and accolades, including:
My rather staunch and uptight character so far has survived. Last night, we had our first rehearsal for Nuit Blanche http://www.scotiabanknuitblanche.ca/project.html?project_id=1048
. For this event, the performance installation is titled Byologyc: Patient Zero
and the narrative will continue. Much of the story has been developed since the Fringe, through Twitter and live forums, and the plot has indeed thickened. From what I learned about the new director of SCD is that power corrupts. At Nuit Blanche, she will be there, along with a mob of EXE occupiers and armed security to protect the company and the nasty Chet Getram.
All this leads up to the Grand Finale – ByoRetreat
on November 2 and 3rd when the world as we know it will end. Busloads of VIP members (and perhaps a few saboteurs – wink, wink) will be taken to a secret location for a two and a half hour interactive survival retreat. Tickets will be available online within the next few days at www.zed.to
Without doubt, this is one of the most original and intelligent artistic projects I’ve ever known and I’m thrilled to be part of it. Indeed, the universe has opened doors for me.
I invite you to enter our story, either as a volunteer performer or an audience participant. I’m confident it will be one of the most creative things you will do this fall. Please join us and I hope to see you at the end of the world as we know it.