I didn’t start making interactive entertainment for any particular reason, other than perhaps as a way to express my creativity. Looking back on the first piece I created, the Ryan Case 1873, it seemed to have come to me from someplace outside of myself. Or very likely from what other artists around me were creating. When I began, I certainly never thought much about how the interaction between audience and performer would be anything other than entertaining, and hopefully impactful when done right. Nine years later, I see it’s usefulness and potential as I never have before. One of the fascinating things is that the audience’s response to this work is in direct connection (everything is connected) to what we long for; reciprocal action.
In regards to life, there always seems to be some sort of unevenness. Personally, I’m cursed with fickleness. You know, one second I’m elated about something, the next you are deflated and uninterested. In my life, I’m either financially stable and prospering while my relationships might be hitting a speed bump. Or I’m in love with all the people in my life, feeling supported, appreciated, lump in the throat emotional, yet secretly terrified about some work situation. Or someone’s upset at me, and I feel like I’m alone and can trust no one, but my career is on a turnaround, headed to the stars! Another way of saying it is: In love and broke! Rich but sad. Happy and unstable.
So how do we find balance? Serenity? Long lasting happiness? Or just ease? You go out and experience “interactive entertainment”. I know it sounds kind of preposterous, but maybe not… What If we think interactive not just as a form of entertainment but rather a way to get out of our heads and into our bodies and our souls? Sometimes life just sucks, and maybe it’s because we’re not balanced. There is not an even proportion of care and attention put on our body, our mind, and our soul. I normally seem to be lacking in the part of me I can’t see. The part of me that when I’m feeling negative I don’t even think exists. I’m talking about the soul.
So what about the soul? I mean there is such a thing as a soul right? It’s that thing we have heard about forever! Mind, body, and soul. It’s that thing I saw leave my old man’s body, as he passed from this life to the next…there was a very real sense of some soul thing leaving, rising up and moving away… so what about that? What about feeding that soul thing?! How does that get done? Where do you go to consume the nutrients your soul needs to be satisfied? Or maybe your soul is good? Does it need anything? Yes, I think it must or else why would we spout things like “His soul is dead?” “She has an old soul”. I just don’t think that soul-nourishing is very common. Or something that most of us in the western world think about, like almost… ever. In all fairness, soul-nourishing is certainly not practical. I mean is there a drive-through for that? “I’ll have a large fries, oreo Mcflurry, and a soul-nourishing fillet o-fish?” Seriously, how do you provide for your soul? Maybe it’s listening to a piece of music, or watching the greatest 10 auditions on X Factor (balling my eyes out) or writing a piece of poetry, or the sounds of birds flapping, or feeling the mist from a waterfall gently falling on you… or seeing a sunset… THAT ALL SOUND SOOOO PRETTY!
But what if (ah, the proverbial “what if” in theater) one of the things that satisfy the soul is an interaction? What if it’s all about having an impulse and then acting (or interacting) with another being? And that person that you interact with can be anyone. Not necessarily a performer in an interactive piece of work, but anyone. A friend, a total stranger on the bus, the girl weeping on the train platform, your douchey boss, or even your kitten. The interaction can take any shape. You can watch your kitten as he discovers what his paws can do! Or you can communicate with a two-year-old. You can run your hand over the bark of a tree, or dig a hole in a garden and plant a seed, tend to someone who needs tending, sing in a choir, follow someone’s lead on the dancefloor (we should bring back partner dancing)… What if that interactivity, where two or more engage in a give and take, even if it’s silently sending the girl on the train platform some understanding and compassion… what if that’s all we need to be more soul balanced? Maybe this is what nourishes the spirit, and that in turn eases the mind, and makes the body more robust… Could it be that simple? That by merely being present with another and interacting (acting, being) we could find alignment, we could find balance.
So, I say to myself and to anyone who listens: Get offline and live more. I know I see the irony because you are online reading this! But try it, try censoring the amount of time you spend in the virtual world and be in the real current world. Read more, invent more, dance more, use your imagination to interact with the characters in your head and maybe create more. Tell a story. Make up bad jokes and tell them. Ride a bike with your best buddy! Write a book about all the lies you’ve never told. Invent something that no one needs but makes you smile. Just reach out and interact because I bet if you do, you might just be feeding your soul.
Carlo D’Amore is a leader in the field of applied interactive technique, a member of the Interactive Deep Dive, an experience designer, award winning actor, Drama Desk nominated Director and the founder of Live In Theater.