Teleport


First Draft of Playscript for Oudeis

by L.H. Grant

(Prologue and first three episodions)

In writing this playscript I wanted to include all of the crucial elements that have emerged from the oudeis team. These are as follows:

Crucial Elements

Obviously starting with such strict parameters does increase the challenge for a writer, especially in this case where what we are trying is so new and innovative. In addition, many of these elements contain substantial difficulties which must be overcome in order to have a successful performance.

One Hour Duration

Because the performance is slated for one hour and contains seven episodions each based in a different city, the use of time is very precious. This means that each episodion must be reduced to its essence and that redundant actions of no dramatic value must be eliminated. For instance, in the first episodion it is not necessary for us to watch Polyphemus eat six men at three different times, two men at one time will be sufficient. The same is true for when he milks his sheep. Furthermore, for dramatic effect, the use of time must be telescoped. That means that certain events that took place over several days will now occur within a smaller time frame. Again, using the first episodion as an example, instead of having Polyphemus come to his cave, discover Odysseus, eat two of his men, fall asleep, leave the cave, return to the cave, get drunk and have his eye gored by Odysseus, all events will now occur within a single time frame. The episodion remains true to Homerís Odyssey but it now has much more dramatic impact.

Virtual Actors (light cones)

This was perhaps the most difficult of the challenges I faced. How to bring life to the light cones? But there were additional problems as well. For instance, how do you show a real actor handing a virtual actor a bowl of wine? Obviously the virtual actor has no hands...a dilemma...but one that has been resolved. Also, how do you show a real actor making love with a virtual actor or even more problematic, a virtual actor making love with another virtual actor? Dilemmas all, but ones that I believe have been successfully resolved in this script.

To begin with, in the prologue I show the transformation of man into light cone in a way that makes the association very clear to the audience. Also, video is used in way to greatly enhance the virtual actors and to accomplish certain things which are beyond their capabilities. In addition, the light cones will modulate in intensity when speaking and there are some rather interesting special effects which give the light cones an extraordinary dimension...pay special attention to Polyphemus when he eats several of Odysseusí companions, and Circe when she changes Odysseusí men into swine and when she makes love with Odysseus.

Now, in episodions one and three, Odysseus has been joined on-stage by several companions. This is necessary because in episodion one we need to see Polyphemus cruelly eat some of Odysseusí men, a mere description of this event is woefully inadequate. The same is true in episodion three when Circe transforms several of the companions into swine. It must be shown not described. That is why it is important to have the companions join Odysseus on-stage. However, this need not create the burden of having more than two actors performing at once. As you will see, in these situations the companions have no dialogue and can remain completely virtual on all stages requiring no actors only light cones. With their positions preprogrammed they will not present any technical problems. This, of course, will also have no effect on whether the light cones representing the real actors are preprogrammed or moved by sensor commands transmitted through the net.

Four Screens

It was important to have some firm idea of the design of the stage when writing this script so I used Gernotís concept of the stage as sketched by Santiago. In this sketch there are four large screens toward the back of the stage. I have numbered them from one to four starting from left to right. These screens will be used for their original purposes which was to show the stasimas, maps, biological sensor data, and net data. However, they will not be used for text.

Additionally, they will be used to give life to the light cones, to provide stage setting, to emphasize dramatic moments, and to show that which can not be shown in any other way.

Elevated Screen

In addition to the four screens I have added an elevated screen to the playscript. This screen will be centered in the back of the stage and slightly elevated above the other four screens. It will primarily be used for each locations mother language. This will ensure that no actors, objects, smoke, or etc., get in the way of the audienceís view. Also, in moments of high drama this screen will be used to great effect, such as when Polyphemus loses his eye and when lightning bolts are used to signify a horrible storm.

Sound of Odysseus heartbeat

There were several considerations I faced when dealing with the biological sensors, not the least of which was the availability and practicality of the equipment. So, I came up with an enhancement to the sensors which could also serve as a replacement if we find the sensors to be impractical.

This new idea is the sound of Odysseusí heart beating or actually the heartbeats of the actors playing Odysseus. My feeling is that showing just the visualization of the sensor readings is not enough. Hearing the actual heartbeat, its speed, its power, and having it transmitted through the web to all of the stages, that provides drama, highlights very important moments, and also serves to give the audience an absolute and unequivocal view of what the actor playing Odysseus is REALLY feeling.

Best of all, this can be accomplished easily with minimal financial and technical demands. All we have to do is place an extremely sensitive miniature microphone over the heart of each actor playing Odysseus. The sound of each actorís heart can then be transmitted with the same ease as their voice.

In the script I have used the heartbeat to both enhance the visualization of the sensor readings and as a standalone effect. I believe it works well in both instances. And, if for any reason, we find that the biological sensors are not useable, we will still accomplish virtually everything we wanted with the sound of the heartbeat.

Also, I thought it worked best to hear only the sound of Odysseusí heartbeat and not the others. After all, we do live The Odyssey through Odysseus and the impact is much greater if undiluted.

Stage Setting

The stage setting provided a unique problem. Since there are six or seven different real locations and each one represents a different place in the journey of Odysseus, it would be logical to assume that each RL would be designed for its particular destination of Odysseus. The problem is every RL is used as a stage for every episodion (i.e., every action and spoken word is seen and heard on all stages). Therefore, each RL must properly set the scene for each episodion if the performance is to remain coherent.

As you will see when you read the playscript this issue was resolved through the use of the screens. At the same time the option remains for each location to have its own stage design if that is found to be desirable.

Language

My aim was to make the language in the script simple, precise and clear. I didnít want to use dialogue alone to propel the story but all of the elements at my disposal, including several new ones, to create this playscript.

Additionally, using the dialogue in this manner should make translation relatively simple.

Consistency Among All Real Locations

In all RL stages all screens and audio will be the same with the exceptions of translated text and any strictly local generated sights and sounds.

Video

All video and still pictures used in the playscript can be created and gathered before the performance. News organizations and archives will have an abundance of material. Furthermore, the scenes in which images of our actors are used can be videotaped during rehearsals and then edited for the performance.

Since this video will be predetermined each location will be properly outfitted and there will be no need to transmit it over the net.

Everything is Doable

Everything in this script is eminently doable. If there are any questions concerning anything that you feel needs further explanation, let me know and I well try to provide an answer.

Performance as Seen on the World Wide Web

I have incorporated my playscript into a design for the World Wide Web. Because of time constraints I have not been able to write down all of my thoughts on this subject but I will provide further information as soon as possible.

Prologue

The prologue is used to put the journey of Odysseus in perspective and also to introduce the audience to some of the techniques that will be used.

The prologue will be the same on every RL stage and will present the actor playing Odysseus to each local audience.

As stated before, it will also show the transfer of man into light cone, as well as put the choros, maps, biological sensors and heartbeat all into play.

Episodion 1

In this episodion I wanted to emphasize the action and adventure of the confrontation between Odysseus and Polyphemus. In fact, just after Polyphemus loses his eye the stage will erupt into a frenetic ballet of real actors, light cones, images and sounds. Everything will come into play and I believe it will have quite a dramatic affect on the audiences.

Also, a theme that comes across loud and clear in this story is the fact that Odysseus and his men come to the land of the Cyclopes as visitors, refugees of war. When they arrive, instead of being treated with graciousness they are dealt with most inhospitably. This has parallels through all of recorded history and is particularly relevant in this day and age when refugees are treated with scorn all across the world, Mexicans in California, Turks in Germany, Algerians in France, etc., etc. It does not take a stretch of the imagination to see Polyphemus as a brutal xenophobe because that is what he clearly is.

Episodion 2

In this episodion there is very little dramatic action between the two main characters, Odysseus and Aeolos, so I chose to emphasize the humor in the situation of Aeolos being a minor deity.

In addition, in the middle of the episodion there is a very big storm sequence in which the audience will clearly feel as if they are in the midst of a terrifying storm.

Episodion 3

In this episodion we see the metamorphosis of man to swine and back again.

Also, we see the incredibly sensual meeting of Odysseus and Circe shown in a way that greatly enhances the eroticism of their lovemaking.

Remember, This is a First Draft!

In writing this draft I had to deal with many technical as well as creative choices. Now that I have resolved many of these difficulties it is my intention to concentrate more fully on the artistic side as I complete the remaining episodions and write another draft. It is my understanding that I will be solely responsible for any rewrites of the playscript. However, I welcome all comments and suggestions. Again, if you have any questions feel free to email me directly or send them to the oudeis-idea and oudeis-tech lists.

L.H. Grant