I’m often asked what the interactive theatrical experience Clockwork Watchis, and the answer changes with each stage of the production. The underlying objective, though, is to create a fictional Victorian universe and tell a story where the narrative is delivered through live events, graphic novels, role-play, online news sites, and a feature film, all co-authored by the audience, through their interactions with our make-believe world over the next five years.
[Read “Stitching Time: Creating an Interactive Steampunk Narrative” on Tor.com]
We’re off to Never-Neverland…
For those who follow my blogging on Tor.com, you’ll know that I recently reviewed Peter and the Starcatcher, currently playing at the Brooke Atkinson Theater on Broadway.
Thanks to special arrangements with the production, Beyond Victoriana will be giving away three pairs of tickets to see the show. These tickets will be good to see this entertaining & irreverent romp on any available performance date between May 2nd through June 1st. See below to check out below for details on how to enter for a chance to win a pair for your own.
Note: Here is my review for Tor.com about Miranda.
Photo credit: Christopher Lovenguth
In our round-up for steampunk events in January, the description for the theater production Miranda was certain intriguing to me. Murder mysteries are always fun, but a steampunk murder mystery? That’s an opera? Where all of the actors play their own instruments? Some criticize steampunk style as being too cluttered for its own good; Miranda sounded very much like an overwrought outfit, tooled too elaborately to satisfy. And yet, all of these elements drew me to the HERE theater space in NYC to watch last Friday’s show. Frankly, Miranda managed to take all of the aspects of what steampunk is – thematically, aesthetically, and even, dare I say it, musically – and combine it to create a compelling smash powerhouse of a show.
[Welcome to jury duty for the New Federation of Northern States – Read the Rest on Tor.com]
Photo Credit: Christopher Lovenguth
Besides all of the steampunk’d renditions of Shakespeare plays and Gilbert & Sullivan musicals, how can steampunk work onstage? Recently, I stopped by the HERE theater to see one innovative example in the form of Miranda, a steampunk murder mystery opera. Tor.com will be posting my review of the show (EDIT: Here it is); sadly, the show is only running in NYC until Saturday the 21st, so I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to see this show to book their tickets ASAP. In the meantime, I took the wonderful opportunity of interviewing the creator, composer and co-librettist Kamala Sankaram and her fellow co-librettist and director Rob Reese about their inspiration behind this unique production.
After the jump, we’ll talk about steampunk dystopias, legal circuses, and the role of people of color in steampunk world-building.
Steampunk’s “era that never was” is often placed during an enlightened mechanical age of the past, when technological innovations mix with historical mores. In a romantic sense, technology is humankind’s hope for a better world; nostalgic steampunk celebrates the sense of wonder and accomplishment people feel in the presence of functionality. But steampunk, though commonly placed in optimistic contexts, can take a darker turn. The genre, after all, is cousin to cyberpunk, that over-engineered world where technology has escaped the understanding of the common man. The darker consequences of steampunk technology is rooted in the imperfections of steam: environmental pollution from burning fossil fuels, the intense human labor (and lost lives) involved in dangerous factory work, global arms races as nations compete to develop their tech. Post-apocalyptic steam combines the hope and the tragedy of progress: society struggling to build itself again in a ruinous world, often after some technological disaster. The City of Ember books, the Unhallowed Metropolis RPG, and the videogame Bioshock are all examples that fall under post-apocalyptic steam.
Post-apocalyptic steampunk exposes the raw conflicts inherent in creating technology. Once everything we knew has been lost, can we ever regain that same world again? We need technology to survive, but how can we not commit the same mistakes that caused our downfall?
Musician and composer Peter Foley asks these questions in his chamber musical The Hidden Sky.