Flatland - There are worlds beyond...

Point, line, square, and sphere. Lunatic, prophet, charlatan, and visionary.


Point, line, square, and sphere. Lunatic, prophet, charlatan, and visionary.

A new theatre work, the premiere season of Flatland opens at BATS Theatre on 13 October 2012 as part of the annual STAB Commission funded by Creative NZ, designed to encourage the development of groundbreaking original theatre. Inspired by Edwin A. Abbott's 1884 ‘romance of many dimensions’ novella, Flatland asks: what do we do when we think we have been enlightened? What comes next?

The audience is invited to explore an unthinkable world where only two dimensions exist, like a sheet of paper. The story told explores what happens to the character Square, when his concept of the world and all its possibilities implode as he is revealed a world in 3D. Set in the 2D and 3D worlds, Flatland traverses the art of digital puppetry; the real-time interplay between live bodies and projected image, interactive audio and digital reactions utilising Xbox Kinect technology and wearable electronics.

Technology, design, digital puppetry; they’re all equally important live performers in this exploratory, totally original work which plays with and questions what theatre looks like in an increasingly digital world. Interactive Designer Johann Nortje had the idea to develop Flatland into a piece of theatre after working as a designer in Wellington’s theatre scene and on his own design as part of multimedia design house Interrupt Collective. His installations and interactive designs have been presented internationally and in 2011 he received the Critics Wild Card Award at the Chapman Tripp Theatre awards for outstanding AV design.

To bring the idea for Flatland to the stage, Interrupt Collective is partnering with local creative and performing arts production house Cuba Creative. Arts Producer for Cuba Creative, Adrianne Roberts, has nursed the Flatland idea to production and has a knack for developing innovative theatre; this is Adrianne’s fourth time working on a STAB Commission show. A leading local producer of original theatre and dance, Adrianne has previously worked on STAB shows Live At Six (2009), EOK: Everything Is OK by Storybox (2010), and Tinderbox by The PlayGround Collective (2011).

“The STAB commission is a fantastic platform for creatives to really push the boundaries, but still within a safe environment. Too often really exciting ideas never get funded because they’re just too risky, so it’s always nice seeing these come to fruition, and be kick ass.”

Directed by Ralph Upton (of Binge Culture Collective), Flatland will push, pull, and play with what we know and understand about theatre and design, marrying Abbott’s satirical treatment of class and politics from 1884 with the timeless question of what it means to become ‘enlightened’. What are the implications, challenges, and risks of discovering your world has more than two dimensions?

As well as a thoroughly surprising and unique piece of theatre, Flatland brings something else unusual to the local arts scene. In association with Victoria University of Wellington and a team led by Kah Chan (Lecturer – Media Design), the Flatland team is developing an interactive online game to generate interest in the work and communicate some of the key ideas in a new and engaging way. The overarching concept of the game will be to ‘escape the 2D’, and once in the 3D, the player’s goal is to generate as much energy as possible to reach ‘enlightenment’. The main character of the game is a Cube, and the game can be played on computers, mobile devices, and by way of large Kinect projections on the streets of Wellington in the run up to opening night. Watch out at www.flatland.co.nz for the launch of the game.

Don’t miss Flatland, at BATS Theatre 13-27 October 2012. Bookings via BATS, 04 802 4175, www.bats.co.nz.

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Written by

Mark Westerby

4 Oct 2012

Interests Theatre & Moving Image Personal Description An actor, singer, voice artist, presenter, creative producer and event manager all in one package!