Flying V's '.DOCS' makes meme-ing into enjoyable and memorable on-line theater

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Interactive theater can generally really feel uncomfortable or awkward for the viewers. Having actors embedded within the viewers or instantly asking you questions throughout the present could make some recoil. But with the anonymity of the web and the widespread language of memes, the immersive expertise of Flying V’s .DOCS was as a substitute empowering and pleasant.

.DOCS examines on-line fandom tradition and the way these communities can generally be poisonous, hijacked, and/or co-opted for private acquire. The present’s artistic group and performers create an area for the viewers that’s at occasions laugh-out-loud humorous and at others prompts an examination of morality and the human price of taking down the true monsters in our world.

The complete efficiency is accessed nearly by means of on-line chat on Discord (an immediate messaging social platform generally related to players and nerd tradition), in addition to by means of just a few e-mails, textual content messages, and Google Docs. E-mailed welcome paperwork and pointers helped set expectations — I knew prematurely that I’d must arrange an account on Discord, learn just a few one-pagers about among the most well-known kaiju (big monsters), Godzilla and Mothra, and be prepared (if desired) to create memes about these figures.

Graphic courtesy of Flying V

A number of hours earlier than the showtime, entry to the manufacturing’s Discord server is open. Audience members can go browsing and examine useful channels like #welcome-and-rules and #assets, which information the expertise, and spend time familiarizing themselves with the platform. Another pre-populated channel supplied some backstory: “GojiSkyLander” (deviser Tristan Willis) and “STOMPtimus Prime” (deviser Erik Whitworth) are the leaders of the “Kaiju Kickback” group, a group for followers of Japanese big monster movies; they usually started this Discord server to host the group’s meme battle.

At showtime, a brand new channel seems on Discord and viewers members click on in to begin the expertise. .DOCS begins as a pleasant group chat about kaiju, with the actors and viewers members free to kind in messages and role-play as members of the group. Goji and STOMP then break the viewers into two teams, Team Mothra and Team Godzilla, to create memes that hype up their chosen creature.

As somebody with solely a passing familiarity and curiosity in big monsters, I anticipated to be a lurker and observe the motion. Instead, the colourful and lively group made me really feel compelled to affix in, googling “funny Godzilla memes” to share, reacting to different messages with show-specific customized emojis, and even creating just a few memes of my very own with the supplied templates and meme-generator website.

The present takes a flip within the second act, with a twist within the story resulting in a puzzle to resolve. As an avid escape-room fan, I discovered this pleasant. My group’s puzzle was set on the excellent degree of complexity to resolve with on-line strangers, with the group coming collectively successfully to seek out the answer.

As the viewers tries to resolve the thriller of who despatched the puzzle, the present takes one other huge twist main into the ultimate act. This modified the character of the group dialogue, with viewers members authentically role-playing and actively discussing the deserves (and lack thereof) of the high-stakes state of affairs. While the precise state of affairs is imagined, the crux of it entails a real-world disaster going through a section of the U.S. inhabitants, making it really feel important.

The efficiency ends with a gorgeous second between the 2 leads — a well-choreographed dance of real-time textual content edits and cursor actions in a Google Doc that neatly exhibits the evolution of every character. Even with no spoken dialogue or audio in all the expertise, you’ll be able to really feel the emotional influence by means of the velocity of typing, the speed of deleting textual content, and the best way the phrases are introduced.

Overall, the present might have benefitted from a bit extra character growth, additional fleshing out the connection and historical past of the 2 predominant characters, and the explanations behind the large reveal within the closing act. And whereas among the moments of leaping from one medium to a different have been a bit laborious to comply with, even with these hiccups, .DOCS created an immersive world that was very true to web subcultures — and that was enjoyable to be part of.

Audience participation was core to the expertise and labored surprisingly properly because of the planning and adaptability of the solid and artistic group. They created an surroundings that made it protected and enjoyable to interact. Adding to the security of the expertise, there was a channel out there (aptly known as “4th Wall”) for viewers members to ask meta questions in regards to the expertise or to take a break with the present’s trauma-informed expertise supervisor.

Those who haven’t used Discord earlier than ought to be capable to catch on fairly shortly, supplied that they’ve expertise with messaging applications (like Slack or Microsoft Teams) or websites that host fan communities (like Reddit). The encounter additionally counts on the viewers having data of memes and web slang; you’d want that background to get considered one of my favourite strains thrown out by a fellow viewers member, “The real kaiju was the memes we made along the way.”

Even after spending all day on my laptop for work, .DOCS supplied a enjoyable, highly effective, and extremely immersive expertise value extending my display screen time.

Running Time: One hour 40 minutes.

Graphic courtesy of Flying V

.DOCS performs on-line Sunday, June 26, 2022, at 2:30 pm; Monday, June 27, at 7:30 pm; and Wednesday, June 29, at 7:30 pm introduced by Flying V. Purchase your ticket ($25) online at the very least 48 hours earlier than a efficiency — you’ll then be emailed entry directions and present supplies to reinforce the dwell digital expertise.

 (he/they) – deviser, director, showrunner
Jonelle Walker (she/her) – deviser, author
Tristan B Willis (they/them) – deviser, performer
Erik “Rikki” Whitworth (he/they) – deviser, performer
Deb Sivigny (she/her)- deviser, content material designer
Kyra Corradin (she/her) – deviser, recreation designer
Mel Bieler (she/her)- deviser, framing designer
Rae Pendergrass (they/she) – operations supervisor
Emma Kaywin (they/them) – trauma-informed expertise supervisor
Alika Codispoti (she/her) – affiliate producer, flying v
Katherine Offutt (she/her) – govt director, flying v

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