The Country Arts SA strategy has been to link artists with “technologists” to realise the use of digital technologies in their projects. The program has been conceived in partnership with the interdisciplinary creative studio Sandpit. Sandpit’s Sam Haren and Daniel Koerner are Artistic Directors of the program, with Country Arts SA acting as producer. The aim is to engage regional SA communities in the making of contemporary theatre that incorporates digital technologies in three different works. Creation Creation is the devising of a brand new world by artist Fleur Elise Noble (see p40) with designer Jonathan Oxlade and Windmill Theatre director Rosemary Myers. The Post Internet is a communal Internet to be made from face-to-face conversations conducted by performance collective post. Eyes is a musing on the end of days by Sandpit themselves. The works were not originally curated as a trilogy but nonetheless Steve Mayhew notes an uncanny similarity in terms of a beginning, middle and end of life. The concern right now is not presentation but development and community-engaged research. Mayhew stresses the importance of embedding the technologist in these processes from the beginning to ensure a holistic treatment of digital elements, to avoid the tacking on of technology as “screensaver wallpaper.” In this way the Country Arts SA program is about cross-pollination between artists and ‘geeks-in-residence’ towards making theatre work with an integrated digital element but always through the community-driven making processes for which Country Arts SA has established its reputation with a previous digital theatre project, If there was a colour darker than black I would wear it (RT 112 p.12), which utilised mobile phone technology. Mayhew is interested in how these new projects will take shape in regional settings and what can be gained for both artists and communities from a process of ‘beta testing’ in 2015, towards presentations next year.
Digital technologies are no substitute for the liveness of theatre, but concern that they might be regarded as such is necessary for Wynne-Jones because “our relationship to technology is so fraught, not in art but in life. To not engage is not a good survival strategy for the relevance of theatre.” In the dramaturgy of these programs the interest is in employing digital technologies but retaining liveness as a way of extending audience-performer relations. The conviviality of theatre is still inherent, it is just appropriated and re-framed. The live theatrical experience is being pushed to encompass the addictive relationships we have with technology, to question it, and Wynne-Jones hopes, “maybe even to change it.”