Am on the train to Merthyr Tydfil, trying to keep up with my life coaching! Our project with the brilliant Blast Theory - Karen - launched yesterday in the iTunes App Store (Android follows soon), while I'm rehearsing Mother Courage in Merthyr Tydfil. Even for NTW with all our digital work, it's unusual to have a project out and about across the globe without our usual opening night party, but it's certainly exciting that people around the world are already downloading and responding to Karen.
Karen is an online app that acts as your life coach over a several day programme of psychological profiling, inspirational thoughts, and very blurry boundaries. But it's also a fantastic theatrical performance by the immensely skilled Claire Cage, wonderfully supported by NTW regular Chris Jared (as Dave - you probably haven't met him yet!) Theatre that exists solely on your phone.
Catching up with my coaching sessions on the train to rehearsals, there's a danger of artistic overload, but also a wonderful sense of creative possiblitiy, that we can be involved making two such very different works at the same moment - responding to today's fractures and fascinations in such different ways.
It's interesting as well to think about Mother Courage's story in relation to Karen. In Brecht's play the heroine crosses the battle fields of Europe buying and selling her wares, as her children get recruited into the army. We've talked in our rehearsasl about how a Mother Courage today would be struggling to get by at home while watching news of the war on TV - that's why we've set our version in Merthyr. And yet we all also cross the world every day on our phones and screens - interacting, selling our wares and our skills - and perhaps as unable to address the bigger picture as Brecht's heroine - thrown from one place to the next by the decisions of Emperors and Generals. I wonder if Karen is a kind of Mother Courage for our times - doing her best to survive in the international muddle of a world we've made, often as not getting things wrong, but also letting us see our circumstances a bit more clearly.
You can download Karen at the App Store here.
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