Bringing Together the World of Theatre and Minecraft
For us, Minecraft is both a creative space and an artistic medium. Our interest is in pushing beyond the Minecraft world and its familiar characters. The simplicity, the juxtaposition of restraints and creative freedom, and its open accessibility appeal to us as artists and storytellers. Our projects usually start with a ‘why not?’ approach to our work. Want to feature live performance-poetry and music within a Minecraft literary salon? Why not? Want to showcase new writing within a purpose-built Minecraft library based on the ancient library of Constantinople? Why not? Want to create a Broadway musical crossover that brings together live stage performance, online streamed gaming, classical composition and musical theatre? Why not?
Well, there are probably several reasons why not, but mostly these are practical considerations, which means they are surmountable. At the initial ‘bubbling up’ stage, our role as creators is to get out of the way and let the ideas go into the water. During this time, we make sure that we feed the ideas with conversation, outreach and research. Some sink, some swim straight away and some settle down into the dark to wait for the right combination of timing, opportunity and interest to rise to the surface.
Building the Project
One such idea was the crossover of live theatre, YouTube and Minecraft. We had long talked about wanting to bring together live theatre, Minecraft and online streaming. What we came up against was the practical barrier of not having any connections within the ﬁeld of live theatre production.
In order to make this idea a reality, it was important to find partners who were interested in exploring the potential of Minecraft and live theatre. A collaboration was developed between Adam as the Minecraft Director, The Playhouse Theatre and Makematic in Derry/Londonderry, Alex Scarrow (author) and The Space (BBC London). As with all ambitious ideas, especially those that are multiagency, there is a lot of ground to cover between the initial project idea and the ﬁnal outcome. This process included many discussions about possible writers, approaches and creative direction.
A specially commissioned play, written by Alex, was worked through, draft by draft, as a group, and looked at both from the perspective of Minecraft and from that of live theatre. Additional conversations were also had about staging, costumes, actors, technology and the physical logistics of presenting a play that would be simultaneously acted on stage and within Minecraft, with audience involvement from live theatre audience, live streaming audience, and a selected number of in-game YouTubers. Leading up to the launch date, there were several online ‘Calls To Action’, inviting and involving professionals from YouTube, Minecraft and theatre, as well as young people from around the world, to engage the general public in all aspects of theatre and Minecraft production. It was a lengthy, and not always easy, creative process, but an interesting one that negotiated the similarities and diﬀerences between these two worlds.
A New Type of Performance Practice
So, how do we tell a dramatic story, simultaneously, on multiple distinct platforms? In Playcraft Live, we aimed to bring together live theatre, Minecraft, and online gaming and Livestream. Doing so presents a number of creative and technical challenges. Marrying together stage actors and Minecraft puppeteers in a live stage and online production means creating a new form of performance practice. This has been seen in ﬁlm, using digital performers and motion capture. Andy Serkis, when he ﬁrst became interested in ‘cyberthespianism’, stated that, ‘…we need to change our mindset, cross-fertilise our talent, and encourage writers, directors, and producers, to think on a much larger scale…’ So, is Playcraft Live a digital performance with real actors, or real performance with digital actors?
In this project, we were aiming to achieve that cross-fertilisation, investing in digital performance in a way that has not been done before — a ground-breaking ﬁrst step in shifting the barriers and preconceptions around what a video game is, and what it can be.
On 14 October 2017, The Playhouse, Derry, presented a world ﬁrst: a stage play that was performed live simultaneously on stage in a theatre and within Minecraft, interchanging between the two spaces whilst being live-streamed online to over a million people worldwide via YouTube, Facebook and Periscope. Technically, it stretched the skills of all involved – requiring live actors to act alongside live Minecraft puppeteers, within a stage designed and built to be both on stage and in-game, under the joint direction of theatre and Minecraft experts, in front of a live theatre audience and in conjunction with a live global online audience. Added to this, we had selected YouTubers streaming from within the Minecraft play to their audiences.
One of the inspiring things about working together in Minecraft and digital gaming is that we are constantly ﬁnding new ways of using it creatively, pushing against our boundaries, and ﬁnding new ways of working together within this playful, digital space. For us, it feels something like being creative pioneers and yet, here we are working within a commercial video-game space that is hugely popular and largely seen as the domain of boys and girls between the ages of eight and twelve. Persuading people to open up to the credibility of our work as creative artists using mediums such as gaming, virtual reality and other digital technology, is both challenging and rewarding. Through its popularity, accessibility and continued capacity for creative inspiration, Minecraft provides the paradigm shift needed to open up the door.
Cool Free Minecraft content:
Immerse yourself in a land of rare species with Safari World! Study animals in need of help and capture a moment in time with your very own camera. Be careful though, don't fall prey to the panther, lynx, or even the cheetah! + Discover 35 animals within their natural habitats + Find and listen to 30 unique audio files for each creature + Includes a safari bus and buggy
JAVA (Mac, PC, Linux)
Totality is a new open-world adventure map from the creator of Gloria, Monstrosity, and the adventure branch of Diversity 2. Crash-landed on Earth, your only hope of escape is to locate four ancient batteries known as sources. Build tactically with an infinite supply of holoblocks to overcome hordes of robotic foes and find your way home.
download and install links: https://www.curseforge.com/minecraft/worlds/totality
What we are playing
“Cloud Gardens is an experimental project, somewhere on the line between a game and an interactive toy. Some players might enjoy the linear 'campaign', some will have more fun in the sandbox mode, building dioramas and taking photos. Releasing in Early Access will help us figure out what people enjoy about the game and improve on those aspects.”
What we are reading
That's Why I Love Minecraft!
Written by Tony Walsh & illustrated by Adam Clarke
What we are selling - Wizard and Wyld
LAND OF LOVE - Minecraft Marketplace
Welcome to Amylee33s's Land of Love, a roleplay ready world for you and your friends to visit and enjoy. Explore all your favourite places, and discover new and exciting secrets and mini-games.
Book a session with us…
Want to learn more about home-educating, video-games and how to make the most of digital online learning spaces? We can offer bespoke 1:1 video-linked consultancy and small-group webinars for parents, educators and organisations. Email us for more information: email@example.com
How to change the world, one block at a time...Take the road less travelled...
Next week - Creative process…!