Classic videogames hit the stage

Header - 'Game Play'

Philip: You like the theatre?
Moss: Never been. But I’ve always liked the idea of the theatre. The smell of the grease, the roar of the paint. I’ve often thought if I hadn’t ended up in computers, I would’ve gone into the theatre.
Philip: But you’ve never been to see a play?
Moss: No.
Philip: Why not?
Moss: [shrugs] Never had the interest.

That’s Maurice Moss, in one of the funniest IT Crowd episodes ever. But even Moss would enjoy a videogame-based theatre festival…

The “Game Play” (play, geddit?) festival is on now at New York’s Brick Theatre. And its sound engineer, Chris Chappell… explains the ideas behind it… “We see this as an exciting chance to bridge the gap between the worlds of vintage gaming and experimental theatre.”

There’s a few videogame-themed performances on offer, but two in particular will tickle your retro bones…

Brick Theatre New York: Modal Kombat

MODAL KOMBAT is yes, based on Midways blood-soaked fighter from the early 90’s. But of course there’s a twist. It’s a modern-day Dueling Banjos, with two performers controlling the MK characters, with modified electric guitars.

Hmm.. Did you assume they were just using plastic ‘Guitar Hero’ controllers? Wrong. Chris explains: “Guitarists David Hindman and Evan Drummond have developed technology that allows classical-electric guitars to control the characters”. Wow, so Kano can win with a fatality, and a C flat!

Brick Theatre:  THEATRE OF THE ARCADE

The other performances of most interest to J-OMG readers is “Theatre of the Arcade“. Chris explains the theory and mechanics behind this one: “T.O.C.A. contains five different short plays, each based on a game that was released and was popular between 1980 and 1986. We’re not telling people which games they’re based on yet–part of the fun will be the audience trying to guess in each case, and the game will be revealed at the end of each play with a screenshot and chiptune music based on familiar themes from the game.

As you can guess from the publicity shot above, Donkey Kong is one of the games-turned-plays. As for the other four, audiences have until the end of the week to find out…

Oh, and for those of you who know your “Beckett” from your “Brecht” (don’t look at me! -Ed) Chris explains the playrights who’ve inspired Theatre of the Arcade… “Each of the plays uses wildly different theatrical styles from five iconic playwrights–Samuel Beckett, Tennessee Williams, Bertolt Brecht, David Mamet, and Sam Shepard. But the theatrical styles will be familiar to most folks even if they don’t know the specific playwrights.”

The “Game Play” festival wraps up this weekend at The Brick Theatre, Brooklyn, New York. Saturday night there’s a Chiptunes dance party, with videogame projections and playable classic video game consoles. Sunday is the final day of performances. But this is the 2nd festival they’ve run, and there’s always 2011…

More info at the Brick Theatre site.

3 Responses to Classic videogames hit the stage

  1. gnome says:

    Nice!

    Now, why not have a look at this:

  2. For a videogame style play, do not miss “True Logic of the Future” at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, from 21 August. This combines live performance, video and audience participation with Steampunk style. I attended a preview in Canberra: http://blog.tomw.net.au/2010/07/steampunk-interactive-performance.html

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