Residency: July to September 2021
As part of their ongoing production of SHUGA FIXX vs The Illuminati, Guttersnipe Theatre explored and produced a telepresence staging of the Triple Threat Teen Awards, a ‘behind the scenes’ talent show parody of television’s X Factor and Britain's Got Talent. The show took the form of a satirical black comedy that explores the dark absurdity of conspiracy theories, the poor treatment of young talent and the rise of fear culture through the eyes of SHUGA FIXX, a tween pop-band who have become prime targets of the ultimate inner circle.
“We are so excited to be working with the Telepresence Stage team on this exciting venture into uncharted digital performance territory. Our company had received Arts Council funding for our show 'SHUGA FIXX vs The Illuminati' in February 2020, thus due to COVID-19 our rehearsals and performances were cancelled. We managed to make videos, do live sharing and make scenes, dances and music from our bedrooms. However, this certainly doesn't compare to our experience of being composited in the virtual space all together.”
Guttersnipe Theatre are a London based company, who describe their aims and productions as “Theatre with womxn [sic] front and centre, both onstage and off it. We are a femxle-led collaborative collective who make bold original theatre that celebrates womxn everywhere. Sometimes we write scripts, sometimes we devise, sometimes we see what happens in the rehearsal room”. Guttersnipe’s previous productions include: Trip (Winner at One Act Festival 2018 and Brighton Fringe 2019), BITS (Forest Fringe 2018) and Moonface (Park Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe 2016, "Devised with precision and intelligence, and performed with honesty and joy. Not to be missed." Broadway Baby).
Techniques and solutions
The Guttersnipe Theatre residency was facilitated by project guest researcher Boyd Branch, utilising his online 3D compositing software Virtual Director, a particularly suitable telepresence solution for Guttersnipe’s unique cabaret style of theatre. Boyd Branch, Lecturer in the School of Media and Performing Arts at Coventry University, developed and built Virtual Director to explore the effects of immersive visualisations on rehearsing and performing theatre online as part of his PhD at the University of Kent.
Reflections and outcomes
Guttersnipe Theatre were extremely ambitious and embraced the Telepresence Stage opportunities from the outset. Unlike previous groups, the performers chose to be in costume for every session, which aided them to get into character. It was particularly helpful from a telepresence point of view, allowing them to observe, experience and further embody ‘Brooke’, ‘Jude’ and ‘Gemma’ as members of SHUGA FIXX, rather than themselves. They played multiple roles including live and pre-recorded characters and they perfected quick costume changes, very convincingly switching characters, from naive ‘tween pop-band’ to egotistical judges.