Conjuring Communities

Dragging TVs out on stage always runs the risk of making the drama itself irrelevant. But If I Were You seems more promising than some previous forays because of 3 Legged Dog's determination to train its actors to keep from drowning in the luminescent glow. Founder and artistic director Kevin Cunningham pushed the actors to improvise around the technological gaps and delays by "feeding them video that they've never seen before . . . so that they learn to roll with the punches." The key is to relax around the TV, he says. "The timing on the video changes slightly and you don't know whether the tape stretched or not last night--that half-second delay can throw off an actor."

Technically, controlling the cues of screen footage is its own minefield, says Cunningham. Major Broadway productions now use massive networks of control boards. "If you look below the stage at Beauty and the Beast, you'll see a mainframe," Cunningham says. "But we're not Broadway producers--we can't come up with $250,000." So the company is designing a more affordable system of its own. (Cunningham and Taylor have worked on the tech side with Richard Foreman, Meredith Monk, and Blue Man Group.) In fact, 3 Legged Dog is so well known for "working with technology and bodies at the same time" that it occasionally gets gigs doing tech support, including running ("line producing") last spring's Governor's Conference on Art and Technology.

Next February at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, Cunningham will produce a stage play accompanied by a counter-narrative told through an hour-and-30-minute video running simultaneously. "[The TV] allows us to play with scale," he says. And schizophrenia.


Signal and Noise

Dr. Martens, I Presume? Consolidation continued in the interactive design industry, as hometeam Razorfish--now a "digital change management" company--merged last week with the Swedish Spray Network, in what could be an attempt to lock down the markets in Helsingfors and Hamburg. Meanwhile, Agency.com, now with offices in London and Paris, hints that it may be moving East, into Asia. Gangbuster growth or digital colonialism? You decide...

Script Doctoring: The 13-year-old Bay Area BBS The Well announced its second annual online writing contest (www.well.com/ contest/), looking for the best online journalism, fiction, and--oddly--conversational posts. Is that like winning $500 for the best message on voicemail? The deadline is October 1...

E-mail: abunn@villagevoice.com

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