We're always on the lookout for tech innovations that help theater makers create compelling new work, and this week we wanted to share our latest find: Moveable Feast. Transmedia theater like Jurassic Park Slope inspired Moveable founder, Steve Schultz , to create an app designed to facilitate even more immersive and inventive theater experiences. James Carter is using Moveable to create NY Hearts:LES, a narrative walking tour that leads audiences through the Lower East Side and the love story of LES residents Jill and Sal. Schultz shares his thoughts on the future of transmedia and theater below.
Okay, so how did you come up with this product, and did you initially think theater makers could/would use it?
This product actually evolved from an early idea I had to put city walking tours onto iPhones, right when the iPhone first came out. Once I started thinking about what a walking tour actually is, I realized that the best ones are narrative; they are essentially theatrical productions. Mobile devices like iPhone & iPad, though, provide a different storytelling opportunity than a stage, and a different opportunity than a guided group. And for that matter, they provide a different opportunity than TV or magazines. We’re trying to seize that difference, and build a robust platform for creative people to use and explore.
Initially, to be honest, I did not think of theater makers at all. In the first iteration of the product, we did hear from some very forward-thinking filmmakers, like Caitlin Burns (who released Jurassic Park Slope on Moveable at the Tribeca Film Festival in April). It wasn’t until I saw Gyda Arber’s presentation of Red Cloud Rising at the New York Transmedia Meetup that the live theatre possibilities of the Moveable platform became clear to me.
What's one of the cooler things you've seen theater makers create using your app?
We are right at the beginning of this. Our content catalog doesn’t actually have any theatre productions in it yet - we just have a handful of walking tours, “daylogs”, and a few experiments. So please, tell your audience that Moveable Feast Mobile Media is truly eager to see their ideas come to life! The latest idea that I love is James Carter’s NY Hearts:LES, which he’s working on funding through a Kickstarter campaign now. I really can’t wait to see it produced.
We also have a Moveable storyteller named Amy, who’s working on a very cool concept for a serial mystery called “Bob”, where audience members are guided through the city and a bunch of fun experiences, as they are immersed in a first-person narrative. But I don’t want to give away too much of the surprise! And I know that the folks at New York Classical Theatre are experimenting with using the Moveable platform in their Shakespeare in the Streets productions, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with! Other than that, I still don’t even know what our creative community is working on - believe it or not, I don’t get to see it until they publish it, and I don’t get to hear about it unless they tell me!
How do you see theater makers using Moveable Feast in the future?
Above all, I expect to be surprised by what the creative community does with the Moveable platform, and what they ask us to add to it. That said, I am hoping to see theatre makers using the Moveable platform to immerse their audiences in their stories. This does not have to mean that the audience has to be actually in the location, by the way! A tablet like the iPad can deliver a very cool immersive, location-based experience whether or not the user is actually in that location. Think about it: if you read 30 articles in Travel & Leisure magazine about 30 different destinations, how many times are you reading at the subject destination? Not many, right? So I hope theatre makers start experimenting with the notion of multimedia geographic immersion, with experiences tailored to both on-site experiences and “living room” or “coffee shop” experiences. I also think we’ll be able to empower audience participation with social tools. We have some really exciting ideas about that. And we think theatre makers will want to incorporate “Audience Generated Content” in some ways; we’ve thought about that, too.
Where can we request and invite?
Go to our public website at mvabl.com. There’s a signup link right there on the home page. The creative part of the Moveable platform is still in an invitation-only beta, but we respond to beta requests very quickly, and all beta invitation come with two “pass-along codes” that allow you to invite your friends or colleagues. If two pass-alongs aren’t enough, you can always ask me for more!
Just for fun, have you ever been involved in a production?
Well, yes and no. I have put together my own little experimental walking tour on the Moveable platform - it’s called “The Low Line”, and it focuses on what’s available beneath your feet as you explore New York’s High Line. But I haven’t participated - yet - in any actual theatrical productions on Moveable. As the platform provider, I do want to stay agnostic about the content that gets added to our catalog, but I also do promote the things that I think are awesome, and I look forward to doing a lot of that!
-- Steve Schultz , Founder/CEO Moveable Feast Mobile Media, Inc.