Last year, I had the pleasure of nerding out in an interactive storytelling course. Our first major assignment was to create a podplay. A podplay is a location-specific auditory theatrical format developed by Adrienne Wong during her time as Artistic Producer of Neworld Theatre.
The synchronicity of my life meant that I was also taking an Indigenous New Media course where we had a field trip to experience a podplay. The podplay, Ashes on the Water (2011), was written by Musqueam theatre artist Quelemia Sparrow. The experience brings the audience member from Main St & Alexander to CRAB Park while sharing important learning of our local history – the Great Fire of 1886 and the birth of The Paddle Song. (As an aside, I am such a big history nerd and I love walking tours and I love fire. This podplay was *chef’s kiss*).
Podplays explore the relational tension between the private [inside your brain via your headphones] and the public [the outside environment/physical space where you are having the theatrical experience]. They are special in the sense they are site-specific but not necessarily time-bound. There is also an intimacy produced in the experience as the audience member engages in the work individually. The outside world is in constant motion around the audience member beyond the control of the artist – for example, when I did Ashes on the Water, there was an encampment at CRAB park with someone having an active crisis during the entirety of the experience. Witnessing a person crying hysterically, picking at their skin, and wearing inappropriate clothing for the weather was a potent reminder about the ongoing reality of colonization on these unceded lands. Facing that while simultaneously hearing a narrative around the bravery and strength of the Indigenous women who paddled across the səl̓ilw̓ət from the community of Ustlawn (Skwxwú7mesh Nation) to save the early settlers. Our entire class discussed the emotional juxtaposition… but that was beyond what Quelemia Sparrow could have predicted 11 years ago as the playwright.
Anywho, the podplay I made is entitled Future Focused Daughter. It touches on a variety of subjects including Vancouver’s lost streams, anti-Asian violence and MMIWGs, specifically Janice Nicole Bryant… her memorial is at St. Catherine’s & E 7th… but does not seem to be up right now… it has previously been removed and her mother rebuilt it… so I hope it will be recreated again (and better protected) to honour Janice’s spirit & her mother’s vow to keep it until Janice’s murder is solved.
It’s under 5 minutes long, and if you like it- let me know and help me design my next one using this quiz! I’ll release it sometime next month!