THE 1812 EVENT AT THE VANCOUVER
FRINGE ON SEPTEMBER 8, 2012 DOWNLOADABLE MP3 FILE WILL BE AVAILABLE IN LATE AUGUST
AT THE VANCOUVER
FRINGE ON SEPTEMBER 8, 2012 DOWNLOADABLE MP3 FILE WILL BE AVAILABLE IN LATE AUGUST
DOWNLOADABLE MP3 FILE WILL BE AVAILABLE IN LATE AUGUST
Lend me your Ears ...
and put on some good walking shoes
Part radio play, part guided walking tour.
A little bit of a scavenger hunt, mixed with an outdoor, interactive, urban drama.
Low-tech portable audio leading to high-test adventure.
Call it what you will, Just Push Play AudioMotion Theatre has been entertaining Vancouver audiences from ears to feet since 1989.
Just Push Play began in the Spring of 1989, in Vancouver, when George Bathgate and Craig Laven pondered the idea:
Would it be possible to devise a fictional narrative story on cassette tape which, when accessed with a Walkman, could lead the listener on an entertaining, walking journey through the streets of the city; where the listener could interact with real surroundings, real people and alternative technologies within the realm of our fictional storyline, and come out at the finish with a heightened understanding of his thought-to-be-familiar environment?
They dubbed this idea, AudioMotion.
Craig and George 1990
That Spring day, the two friends took this new notion, combined it with the blind hope of an arts grant application and the hazy enthusiasm of a lot of beer, then incubated AudioMotion's possibilities into what finally emerged onto the sidewalk the next Spring as GUMSHOE: Vancouver First Cassette-Directed, Interactive, Outdoor, Walking Adventure Mystery Tour Theatre Thing.
Audiences loved it. So did the critics. Since then, fingers have been kept on the record button, shifting every now and again to JUST PUSH PLAY.
1990 saw Just Push Play’s premiere AudioMotion work, the multimedia, detective-spoof GUMSHOE, run in Vancouver’s Gastown. It was a hit! In 1991 two more works were released: SCOOP (in French and English) and SPIRITS OF BREWERY CREEK. SCOOP ran for eight years at Granville Island! In 1995 JPP launched the triptych, URBANAUT, three short plays taking listeners on a day long journey throughout Vancouver. 1999 marked the beginning of TRAIL TALES, a combination AudioMotion work and hyper-detailed multimedia lesson plan, designed to help teach English as a Second Language and explore First Nations’ legends in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. TRAIL TALES continued to run until the 2006 windstorm leveled the Prospect Point area of Stanley Park
In the Autumn of 1989, Just Push Play Theatre Society was incorporated under the B.C. Societies Act, with a mandate to develop and produce innovative audio works of an artistic, educational and cultural nature. JPP’s works provide an entertaining local voice to local and global issues — issues such as heritage and development struggles, the environment and eco-responsibility, first nations legends, civic history, cultural diversity and English as a Second Language — while giving audiences a heightened and enlightened view of their local surroundings.
JPP’s Unique Medium: AudioMotion
AudioMotion Works, or audio-directed theatre pieces, are orchestrated, exploratory adventures, which make use of pre-designed, recordings and portable audio players to direct the audience on a real-time journey through the urban landscape. The audience interacts with, and is engaged by, their physical surroundings, discovering new and subtle details of this familiar setting, observing and meditating on their environment in a new way. Drawing from the traditions of radio drama, conventional theatre, storytelling and directional walking tours, AudioMotion provides a participatory theatre experience.
Unlike conventional theatre (or cinema) the audience is not a passive viewer. Listeners are active participants in the story, becoming the lead actor. Similar to cinema, AudioMotion directs the audience’s eye (making the participant the camera), while making aural commentary on these scenes. Although the recording directs the audience and provides them with the storyline and the other characters, the listeners are in ultimate control of their AudioMotion experience: the play begins at the audience’s discretion, and intermission can be taken whenever the audience members desire. To take a break, the listeners press Stop; to begin, they Just Push Play.
Just Push Play’s AudioMotion debut was the 1990 production of GUMSHOE, written and directed by JPP’s Artistic Directors, George Bathgate and Craig Laven.
Elderly Art Deville, one time leading Vancouver architect, now pro-heritage lobbyist, has gone missing. Audience members, from Vancouver and from around the world, were delighted with the intrigue of playing Watson to JPP’s cassette Sherlocks. Equipped with a Walkman, a cassette tape and a file folder of information, listeners hit the streets and gumshoed their way through decaying Skid Row, restored Gastown and modern corporate downtown Vancouver.
Upon the cassette-detectives’ advice, listeners interviewed (and received clues from) shopkeepers in the area; remotely accessed Art Deville’s answering machine messages; searched through a post office box; and found and viewed a video cassette.
During this three hour AudioMotion exploration of downtown, listeners were presented with both sides of the local Heritage-Development struggle and were presented with the diverse array of Vancouver’s architectural styles (our true Art de ville). By the end of the play, participants had a heightened personal awareness of stylistic transition and an appreciation of Vancouver’s urban landscape. GUMSHOE ran April - October, 1990.
JPP’s Artistic Directors wrote and produced our first play of 1991, called SCOOP — an AudioMotion science-fantasy, set on Granville Island. The “cassette guide, narrator and storyteller” is a newspaper reporter who receives a tip about an impending ecological disaster. The reporter (and the audience) finds a way to use his Walkman to communicate with the local eco-system. This begins their journey around Granville Island, discovering the lesser known parts of the Island while exploring humanity’s relationship with the environment. Along the way they meet Mother Earth, The Spirit of Life, and the elements Air and Water. SCOOP opened in July 1991, operated from the Granville Island Information Centre, and ran until October 1998, when many of the landmarks crucial to the story were moved or changed. SCOOP was also available in French. A portion of SCOOP’s box office proceeds were donated to Global ReLeaf, for the planting of trees (not only a good thing to do, but a vital part of SCOOP’s plot as well).
SPIRITS OF BREWERY CREEK — a heritage walk-of-discovery, written by Vanessa Lowe, was JPP’s second play of 1991. Listeners were directed through the Brewery Creek and Mount Pleasant area of Vancouver by their cassette guide and narrator — the ghost of a vaudeville entertainer who lived in the area during its heyday. The ghost-guide combines history and fiction to anecdotally explain the sites and past events of the area to create for the audience the feel, mood and appreciation of what the Brewery Creek area was like when it was the original centre of Mount Pleasant. SPIRITS OF BREWERY CREEK premiered as part of the 1991 FRINGE FESTIVAL. The play continued to run, as a rental from the Western Front then as a mail order purchase, until 1995, when too many of the buildings referred to in the play were torn down .
THE URBANAUT SERIES, released in 1995, featured three, shorter, cassette-directed stories by three local playwrights. Jamie Stewart’s TROUT LAKE TRAUMA gave a dog’s perspective of East Vancouver’s Trout Lake; Earle Peach’s OLIVE’S SOLILOQUY, took listeners on a search for Popeye on the waterfront; and David McCombie’s THE TIME TOURIST led the audience on a futuristic holiday back to the present, at New Westminster’s Quay.
E. Pauline Johnson
Trail in Stanley Park
In the Spring of 1999, we released a new play, specifically designed for English as a Second Language schools, and set in an area where urban renewal and development would not shorten the play’s life. Just Push Play’s Artistic Directors chose the trails of Vancouver’s Stanley Park as the location for TRAIL TALES. Written by George Bathgate and Craig Laven, with the assistance of ESL teachers, this 50 minute cassette-directed trek follows the path from Prospect Point to Third Beach. Along the way, students enjoy the magic of AudioMotion while learning about local history and lore, First Nations legends of Stanley Park and Siwash Rock, the coastal rainforest and the poetry it has inspired.
TRAIL TALES came complete with an extensive teachers’ guidebook and a variety of lesson plans incorporating popular Vancouver themes (First Nations, local history, the rainforest). A separate binder contains ready-to-photocopy student exercises and transparencies for use with an overhead projector. Available as a complete kit (Walkmans, tapes, guidebooks, teaching tapes, activity binders all in a carrycase), TRAIL TALES ran until late 2006.
In 2006, JPP began our somewhat delayed leap into the 21st Century. We updated our medium from cassette tape accessed via walkman (with support materials in a binder and booklet), to MP3 files accessed through iPods (with support materials in PDF form). With TRAIL TALES converted to a webfriendly format, we were set to relaunch. Sadly, a couple of months before its re-release, the project was kiboshed when the December 19, 2006 windstorm destroyed the part of Stanley Park through which TRAIL TALES was set (Prospect Point to Third Beach). TRAIL TALES may be relaunched when this part of the park regrows in 300 to 400 years.
Prior to the 24th century, we expect to launch new works employing the Internet. We want to go beyond using the internet for mere product promotion and product delivery, we would like to make it part of the product itself! As our visionary pre-Net compatriot is often quoted, “The medium is the message.” In the past, JPP has incorporated into our audioworks a variety of communications media: audiocassettes; the telephone and answering machines; keys and post office boxes; video cassettes; postcards and mailboxes; paper, photography and the print media; graffiti; and meeting and conversing with real live people. The internet is another communication avenue ripe for artistic exploration. Very exciting stuff! Stay Tuned.
"A fascinating example of interactive theatre which shows some remarkable ingenuity. The effect is to create various technological layers (using) modern technology to expand the possibilities for interaction."
—The Globe and Mail
"(Just Push Play) removes the barrier between audience and actor."
—The Arts Report, C.B.C. Radio
"... A walkabout of discovery ... somewhere along the route I realized that the (play) had managed to make me do something that I’m usually too busy or preoccupied to even consider. It had never occurred to me before that I spend more time than seems right being oblivious to the very city I live in."
--The Vancouver Sun
"...The ultimate in audience participation theatre...it draws you into contemporary urban issues, placing audiences in an environment and giving them the means to explore it...It has a film feel, your eye becomes the camera directed to observe certain details."
"The entire city is the theatre...intriguing and lots of fun."
—The Afternoon Show, C.B.C. Radio
"The best summer theatre going ... it’s intelligent, involving and fun ... a highly enjoyable dip into the ambiance of the city ... well prepared, engineered and performed."
"(It’s a) novel and up-to-date idea... The neat thing about it is, as entertaining as the piece is, that it also gives you a bit of history about it ... You can’t help but to start to think about the city you’re looking at in a different way...It does make you think about preserving the heritage of our culture."
—Prime Time, C.B.C. Radio
"(A) radically unusual and cost effective way of taking theatre to the streets ... I loved the fact that the creators gave me a new frame through which to view Vancouver; ... a secret experience right in the middle of downtown; and ...challenged me with a new form. Absolutely the best was having the street transformed into a playful fiction with serious implications... Whatever direction Just Push Play takes, my ears and feet will be ready to follow them."
—The Georgia Straight
('cause we’re a non-profit society, bent on improving the world...)
President Rudy Bootsma
Vice President Jack Ognistoff
Treasurer Kris Klaasen
Secretary Jamie Stewart
Board Members at Large
George Bathgate & Craig Laven
Contact Info: JustPushPlayAudioMotion@gmail.com
Special thanks to the good people at Blair Arts Ltd. and Three Tier Technologies Corp. for getting this website off the virtual ground. Go visit them; buy their stuff.