Karen is a new work by Blast Theory, developed in partnership with National Theatre Wales. Co-commissioned by The Space and 539 Kickstarter backers, Karen has been developed with support from the Mixed Reality Lab at the University of Nottingham and in collaboration with Dr Kelly Page.

Back in 2013 I was given the opportunity to be part of National Theatre Wales and Watershed's Digital Producer's Lab, Wales. Myself and 11 other producers from across the creative industries in Wales were whisked away to Bristol for a week where the aim was to foster digital talent and catalyse production of creative technology projects in Wales. Since then, through the projects I have worked on with National Theatre Wales and the other wonderfully brilliant companies I've worked with I've live-streamed productions through live-streaming sites and social media platforms, I've created digital marketing plans, I've worked on productions involving projection and I've created and populated existing platforms as characters in order to create 'the world/reality' of a theatrical production but, until Karen, I've never worked on a live event/ production which has been lead by digital it's always been the other way round and I'm excited. I'm excited about how the gap will be bridged between the two realities creatively and how audiences will take the jump with us.

Karen started life as an app which has been downloaded more than 10,000 times since launching in April and played by audiences from all over the world including America, Australia and Germany. Now, Karen is planning a secret rendezvous with her biggest fans. 

Karen is a one-off immersive live experience, its a cross between gaming and storytelling. It's Karen’s having a big bash for her 40th on 24 October, at a secret location near Cardiff. She’s booked the curry house, a DJ, a singer, the bar will be open and it’s going to be a right laugh. You'll get a three course meal and you'll even get introduced to some of Karen’s dearest friends as she decides about the next big step in her life.

I'm also excited about having the chance to work with Blast Theory. Blast Theory are leading the way for the digital arts. They are "one of the most adventurous artists’ groups using interactive media, creating groundbreaking new forms of performance and interactive art that mixes audiences across the internet, live performance and digital broadcasting." Click here for more information on them. I get up in the morning because of the artists I get to work with because they make me look at the world from a different perspective and Karen is no different. It explores the relationship we have with the digital world and how through our engagement with it and our need to be part of it the level of trust we invest in it.

Tickets are available until Wednesday (14th October 2015) evening and if you've played, you should book your tickets now here so as not to miss out on this exciting event which is crossing the boundaries between digital and theatrical realities. If you haven't but fancy playing the app, you can download it for FREE on the Apple App store and on Google Play Store.


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Comment by Kelly Page on October 15, 2015 at 1:32

Sarah, the live event all sounds very intriguing. I am curious by what you mean by 'a live event/ production which has been lead by digital?' Karen is a social contruction lead by the production team's social, data and the interactive design of her and how we, the audience play and interact with, we further build and develop on that construction. While we may interact with Karen through a digital device, she is no less real or fictional than a character we experience through book, or a production on stage. We have been immersed in her story just as much as she has in ours, in how she weaves her profiles of participants through the story. In her design (of which digital is but a part) Karen is no less determinist in leading us than any social or mobile application, in fact she and our experience of her is a co-creation. Without the participants who downloaded and played her ... there is no Karen, just as there would be no Karen without the team who designed her. As such ... is the live event really led by digital. I look forward to learning more on the 24th. Kelly.      

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