Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Technology and Theatre: My quest to make peace with the modern world

By Anne Mooney, Community Theatre Coordinator

I used to be a luddite.  Not the destruction-of-property-as-a-form-of-protest luddite, but rather more of a neo-luddite who couldn’t get used to or didn’t want to use modern technology.

People would ask me about computers/cellphones/etc and I would joke, “I use a fountain pen.”  I realized I couldn’t use that joke anymore when one adult (30ish) asked quite seriously, “What’s a fountain pen?”  Okay, I could handle the blank stares from my students, but not adults.

In the past year I have made a giant leap in my technology intelligence.  I’m not and never will be terrific at technology, but - I have an iPhone.  I still haven’t figured out how to get voice mail messages yet, but I can text and I even use my phone as a hot spot—I can use my phone to get internet access anywhere.  I was so excited when I explained that I bought my phone for its ability to hot spot and my technology-savvy niece didn’t know what I meant.  Technology—I have arrived!

When I was at the QUONTA Festival last March, I forgot to bring my notebook to one of the adjudications.  I always find pearls of wisdom when listening to adjudicators and like to write these pearls down for future reference.  What shall I do?  I took notes on my cell phone! 

I recently designed costumes for a production of Arsenic and Old Lace and was reminded of the differences in my research techniques from my first costume design work in the mid 1980’s and the way I research now.  Back in the dark ages, when I roamed the earth with the dinosaurs (another tired joke I used on several generations of elementary school students) I would go to the public library and look through the tiny collection of costume history books, scour my grandmothers collection of clothing patterns and look through books of still photos of old movies to get my costume inspiration.  Now?  Right to the internet where Google even has image search!

Today, even the smallest town’s library has internet access.  The ability to research for inspiration on costumes, set, lighting, props is at our finger-tips.  Using the internet to find out the production history of a play (another source of inspiration and pearl of wisdom received from an adjudicator) makes life easier and easier. 

So now, I still have and use several fountain pens.  I still tell tired jokes.  I still prefer paper over touch screens, but now I use the internet as one of my first sources of research on theatre...and you can look up the terms luddite and neo-luddite on Wikipedia.

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