LUDIC PROXY

by Aya Ogawa

NY

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WHAT IS LUDIC PROXY?

When I was commissioned by The Play Company to create a new play in 2011, it was shortly before the earthquake that rocked the northeastern part of Japan. Spurred by the resulting nuclear disaster, I was moved to research the 1986 Chernobyl accident and the evacuation of the city of Pripyat, which housed most of the workers of the nuclear power plant. When I stumbled upon a first-person shooter video game called STALKER set in Pripyat, I began to wonder what it would be like for someone who had been evacuated from her home then to wander through a virtual simulation of her hometown in a video game 30 years later.

The resulting work is LUDIC PROXY, a play that pulls the audience into uncharted territory where memory, fantasy and virtual reality collide. It follows three distinct stories from the past, present and future. In Act One, Nostalgia, a woman becomes obsessed with a video game after she recognizes the setting as her hometown, Pripyat. In Act Two, Virtual Reality, a pregnant woman living in the outskirts of the Fukushima nuclear evacuation zone is torn between staying loyal to her community and saving herself and her child. And in Act Three, The Future Age, a woman contemplates her own mortality and possible progeny, unable to imagine a hopeful tomorrow within a technology-saturated world underground.

WHY IS THIS PROJECT SPECIAL?

I want to challenge myself, my artistic team, and our audiences through both form and content. This play deals with painful, frightening environmental and social themes, intertwined with a more fanciful and lyrical exploration of memory and technology. The cast of six includes multilingual performers who will perform Act 2 entirely in Japanese with projected supertitles. Over the last 3 years, I have been experimenting, alongside my design team, with technical elements and video game forms, to create a particular relationship between performers and audience that evolves over the course of the play. In some moments the play is immersive and the audience is placed within an environment that shifts and changes around them over the course of the performance. At other times, the audience will be moving through different environments as actors lead them through the story. They will be enveloped in a layering of live action and video projections, and in certain sections be asked to determine the trajectory of the story. Jeanette Yew, the lighting/video designer, Jian Jung, the set designer, and I envision a production that transforms the street and basement levels of the performance space, 46 Walker Street in TriBeCa, which is normally a 73-seat black box, into an interactive art installation experience.

WHAT IS THE MONEY FOR?

I’m thrilled that LUDIC PROXY is being produced by The Play Company next April. The Play Company has raised the funds for the commission, development and production – and has even worked with me to raise additional money to help me cover some of the childcare costs for my two kids. But industry standard fees for artists do not adequately compensate for the amount of time I have spent and need to spend imagining, conceptualizing, experimenting, writing and rehearsing this project. A complex work of art like this requires a lot of time of the generative artist. I’ve spent 3 years developing this play, and your donations through Hatchfund will go directly toward providing the resources I need to make this play a reality. I am aiming to raise nine thousand dollars, which would enable me to be as hands on as possible, and compensate an assistant. In the event that I surpass my funding goal, that money will go into a discretionary fund, so that any unexpected production costs can be covered. Thank you for taking the time to help an artist fully realize her vision!

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