|Before the long drive|
|Iowa has square donuts|
3. Wednesday night I met up with Kathryn Eader, a long time friend and former mentor from Austin. I used to assist her way way back many centuries ago at UT, when I was a grad student and she designed at the Butler Opera Center (which of course was NOT that long ago, according to the way she explained it to her students). We went out for dinner and talked a LOT about theater, and while I'm not going to go into details it was so wonderful, and so meaningful, to reconnect with her. Sometimes I just really need the support from old friends and people from home. This is the first year with no planned time spent in Austin since 2003 and I'm missing it hard.
|The bar where we ate dinner - gorgeous "future set design"|
5. Escape Room Design!!! I was so excited to see this session on the schedule. The panel consisted of a set designer, an escape room designer & owner in St. Louis, and two former defense contractors (think DARPA) who began developing interactive tech for use in escape rooms (think Star Trek or Minority Report). I was literally bouncing on the edge of my seat the whole time and nearly knocked everyone in the room down to talk to them afterward. They also fielded some questions that made me want to jump up and say "NO THE TENSION EXPERIENCE DID THAT!" I really hope there's no online video of that session. Anyway. The point is, every student in that room was so WITH THEM, and some were even asking things like "you mean I can use my theater degree to design video games?" And the panelists said "we aren't storytellers - we need you guys." It was honestly inspirational. And had the escape room down the street not been booked up for the evening (I have a feeling it was the people in that room) I might have taken my students there.
Oh - things I didn't cover - the floor. The floor seems to be lots of people's favorite part and is almost never mine. I walked it with Mac's TD, Tom Barrett, and Paul Whitaker from Schuler & Shook, who is designing the theater in our new building at Macalester next year. We looked at gear and talked about different options for the theater but I have always been almost regrettably more interested in telling stories, creating experiences, building worlds, theory, concepts, and pushing the boundaries of what we can do than in the technology we use to do it.
|The floor - where things were flying, exploding, and being set on fire, but my students were interested in a drill.|
I did finally get to connect with Ian Garrett - we are working on a really exciting immersive/augmented reality project this summer - and ended up in a conversation with another woman (whose name I cannot remember right now) about the escape room design workshop, whether such things could be incorporated into performance, at which point I said that YES, I have experienced it, and she said she knew where I was going, and suddenly we were both talking about the Los Angeles haunt scene. It was kind of hilarious. We also both agreed - for those in LA reading this - that y'all are nuts. And I mean that in the most loving way. I also said that I fervently believed that you are representative of the kind of untapped population of possible audience members that theater artists are always talking about needing but never having (blah blah dying art form), and perhaps we need to start actually seriously making art specifically for you, because it was obvious that you wanted it.