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Once you hit play on the ipod and the voice in your head says, "See that grey spiral staircase over there, I want you go to the top and face East", you do as you're told, because you trust the PuSh festival after all, and this is PodPlays — arguably the season’s most unique performance art experience.
Pod Plays –The Quartet, was conceived by Adrienne Wong with Martin Kinch as theatre of the mind and an innovative new take on virtual reality. Throughout the course of four unique vignettes, narrators help listeners transcend the audience experience by leading them on a journey, both physical and emotional, from the atrium of the new Woodward's building, and out across the rooftops, parking garages and other lesser-know public spaces around Gastown and beyond. Throughout the walk, listeners take directional cues on where to go, but also on how to feel and what to emote.
In Look Up (by Adrienne Wong and Martin Kinch) I was carried off to the rooftops of Vancouver’s downtown core and into the intimate and fragile history of two young lovers. In Five Meditations on the Future City (Proximity Arts) I lived and breathed a portrait of Vancouver’s treasured past, stopping to sit on the beach near Vancouver’s drydocks and trying to see an ancient forest for the orange metal trees. In Portside Walk (David McIntosh & Aleister Murphy) I leaned against light posts and looked broody to the soundtrack of blues music and streetlights in the shadows beneath the Vancouver convention center. And G…Cordova (Martin Kinch and Noah Drew) touched on sensitive areas of aging and family that had me thinking about my responsibilities to the ones I love.
A testament to the power of this medium, PodPlays swept me away in the moments, as if the real world around me had dissolved and I was simply acting out my own consciousness: the sole cast member of my memories. Each play engaged my world-view in some way and I felt liberated performing a hyper-sentimental version of my inner musings, without the normal consequence of feeling absurd, or self-involved.
The only thing that could enhance this experience, would be live actors along the way to enliven the illusion. A few times I thought I was being duped by the man asking for cigarettes and change, or the man near the drydocks who drank something out of a paper bag and looked off at the mountains, or even the man who tried to buy marijuana from me as I finished up the last act of the final podcast on the stairs in front of the art gallery.
PodPlays – The Quartet takes the best part of getting lost in a book and pairs it with the best part of being a real human. These plays let you get lost in an illusory world; an over-dramatized version of your own life, where your thoughts and experiences seem more important somehow, and empowers you take an active role in your life. If for nothing else but a nice walk on a dreary afternoon, PodPlays illustrates the drama of everyday life in the city, and makes being a neurotic, self-obsessed member of society cool again.