Communication With Characters

Yesterday, mostly because I needed a short break from all the work I’ve taken on lately, I went to an excellent matinée showing of “The Heiress” with my husband and my parents. This wasn’t a film; it was a theatrical production.

I’m a firm supporter of the performing arts, as anyone who knows me will already be aware.  In my completely unscientific opinion, this is also part of the reason I love transmedia storytelling, or alternate reality games.

When you’re watching a live show, the actors laugh, cry, argue, scream, die, or even yawn in front of you – and it’s contagious.

It’s similar to the experience of going to a party where there is a really charismatic, happy person hanging out at the punch bowl. You may not have been in the best mood when you arrived, but that person’s happiness is magnetic, and more often than not, people leave in a good mood.

Or, conversely, a charismatic, unhappy person can spoil an otherwise good party pretty quickly.

As audience members we can’t participate in the stories of most traditional theatre, but we can feel what the actors are putting themselves through. We’re close enough to see the sweat on their faces – sometimes we can even smell them if we’re in the front few rows. The actors’ energy is all around us, and in moments of high stress, we’re in it with them. This isn’t something that happened several months ago and was recorded for us to view later; it’s happening right now.

Something similar goes on in alternate-reality-transmedia-storytelling-game-fiction-whatever-we-would-like-to-call-it.  🙂

In ARGs, though audiences can’t feel the energy of live people in the same room (except in the case of live events), that same immediacy is there. As with theatre, ARGs provide the sense that the story is happening right now. In addition, audiences get to participate in the story itself, thus putting them even closer to the characters they have grown to love, hate, trust, or mistrust.

For me this is the most thrilling part of both theatre and ARGs. When I’m in the audience, I’m pulled into the rabbit hole, deep into a world that isn’t my own but feels very real. When I’m on the creation side, I’m developing worlds and scenarios that I know I would love to explore.

Are you a fan of immediacy in your fiction? Where else can we find this sense of communication with the characters?


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