Anti-Gone at Human Resources LA
by Jyni Ong
It's Nice That - 18 September 2019
Anti-Gone is a mixed reality performance set in a post-climate change world
A new and original mixed reality performance by Theo Triantafyllidis, Anti-Gone, is an hour-long play like you’ve probably never seen before. Set in a post-climate change world, where environmental catastrophe has become the norm, amongst sunken cities, a culture of late-capitalism still runs rife. While consumerism, inequality, social unrest and so on “cling like barnacles to the ruins of civilisation,” Anti-Gone’s protagonists – Spyda and Lynxa – attempt to navigate a world in near-danger of becoming nothing short of dystopic.
The play started out as a series of experiments into mixed reality. Exploring a multi-layered experience which combines live performance with digital content, the piece shifts between our imminent disastrous future and the constructed, virtual present. Starting work for the play, back in 2018, after an initial set of experiments including a performance as a gender-ambiguous Ork contemplating the meaning of art, Theo stumbled across the comic book Anti-Gone by Connor Willumsen. “I felt that it could make a great script for a larger performance,” Theo explains. “Connor’s writing communicated a dreamy feeling related to virtual reality and a sophisticated critical look on escapism.”
Bringing Matthew Doyle on board to scale up the project into a complex system for live improvisation, the two embarked on a creative process of boundless spontaneity where any absurdity is possible. Together, they formed a collaboration of playfulness and humour, casting Zana Gankhuyag and Lindsey Normington as leads to approach the piece experimentally together.
After adapting Connor’s graphic novel into a dramaturgy – a script and visual assets made through a game engine – the rehearsals commenced. “We pursued the rehearsal through a traditional dramatic text alongside more open-ended and non-linear experiments,” says Theo. Employing character improvisation workshops and designing role-playing games based on Dungeons and Dragons, for example, Theo and Matt gathered a team of collaborators, from costume and props designers to composers and lighting technicians, to create a one-of-a-kind production.
For Matt, his experience with the interdisciplinary production has spurred an interest in “how we can break these technologies down, to create a shared experience for a live audience.” Using theatre as a vehicle to combine both old and new traditions in the medium, Anti-Gone provides both the ephemeral spontaneity of live-action, with emerging technologies which can “create a frame for new gestures and physical grammars,” explains Matt.
With sell-out performances across Los Angeles, where the artist is based, Theo and Matt are looking forward to building out the story and game elements of the piece in further editions of the production. Touring across a number of locations in the coming year, the performance is certainly not one to be missed if you can catch it. And other than the extended run of mixed reality performances making their way well into 2020, looking to the future, we may even see a new interpretation of James Joyce’s Ulysses, coming from Matt and Theo.