Monday, July 2, 2012

The play's the thing

So, there I was at home in Kuhrang, when I received a message from the estimable Mr Perryn Peterson; he was about to appear in a play, would I care to come and watch?

Shortly thereafter, there I was in Piedmont Landing, at the Jewell Theater high in the air, watching "The Ost", a Gorean-themed play in which Perryn was playing a two-timing guy who gets rather more than he bargained for, in a distinctly Gorean sort of style.

I have to admit, my own style wasn't particularly Gorean, since I was still baking a rather nice modern outfit from Ydea at the time... still, there were a couple of other conventional Earth people around, among all the silks and the slaves, so I sat quiet and said nothing and absorbed this little tale from a culture that is, to be honest, pretty much alien to me.  (I read a Gor book, once, about twenty-five years ago; neither John Norman's writing style nor his sexual politics impressed me very much.)

The play was one of those areas where SL shows its... differences... from RL.  On the one hand, fantastically detailed sets and costumes were rezzed in the blink of an eye, technology Shakespeare would have given his eye teeth for.  On the other, the dialogue was exclusively in chat, so no intonation, no expression, there; and though the actors were perfectly choreographed, there is a limit to what they can do, too, with animations and precisely timed movement. 

The subject matter, Perryn (quite correctly) assured me, was universal, but I kept looking about for the Gorean twists - the attitudes, and the resolution of the central situation, that were appropriate to the Gorean culture.  (I commented to Perryn, afterwards, how different things might have been in other constructed cultures - citing as an example one of M.A.R. Barker's T├ękumel stories, where the love triangle is resolved quite neatly by the hero marrying both the girls.  But this isn't possible in a Gorean setting, apparently.)  Anyway, it kept my interest, all the way through.

Must admit, though, the one thing that really threw me was the attitude of the audience, who were heckling loudly and commenting on the action all the way through.... Now, this might just be my cultural prejudices coming through, of course.  My upbringing makes me think it's only a courtesy to the performers to keep my mouth shut and let them get on with the show - perhaps I am old-fashioned; perhaps it is different in Gor; or perhaps I'm not old-fashioned enough - Shakespeare's audiences at the Globe could cut up pretty rough, by all accounts.  But I found it distracting, enough so to do a surreptitious mute on a couple of the most talkative (including one person whose open mic was delivering snatches of the Euro 2012 cup final along the way).

Anyway - it was definitely an interesting experience.... Of course, it occurs to me that I was present in my SL identity watching a bunch of other SL people assume the roles of yet other people in an invented society, thereby achieving such a level of "meta" that I'm not even sure I'm typing this.  But it was certainly an interesting event.

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