Student-created play explores modern preoccupation with technology

POVV: Prisoner of View/Point of War, a theatrical performance, explores the ways in which technology has changed people’s perspectives of the world. 
(Photo by Kurtis Semph)

A play opening Friday from the School of Theatre and Film will explore the prevalence of automated buttons in modern culture.

POVV: Prisoner of View/Point of War is an untraditional play that will express issues of perspective and points of view on how people view the world and war because of technology.

Co-director Megan Weaver said modern civilization is constrained by technology.

Weaver, a directing graduate student, is part of Punctum, a new company started by a group of graduate students at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

Weaver said philosopher Roland Barthes, who inspired the company name, used the word punctum to describe photography that would reach out, touch and prick its audience.

She said she and her classmates hope to create moments of punctum for their audience.

The show includes eight actors, three designers and two directors. A total of nine performers will be onstage during the play because one of the designers is also performing.

Weaver said the act will blur the line between the performers and the audience.

“People can expect an invitation to participate through various methods,” she said. “They might be invited to participate through technology that they might have in their pockets. They might be invited to participate through speaking. Actors may come off the stage and be in other areas that are traditionally limited.”

The traditional theater expectations to sit and watch will be challenged, Weaver said.

The show’s slogan, “Push the Button” is also incorporated.

Many characters, including a military drone operator and a man who only has interpersonal relationships through computer services like Skype, will deal with pushing buttons, Weaver said.

Jake Pinholster, director of the School of Theatre and Film, said the performance is completely original and experimental work.

“It’s based on ideas,” Pinholster said. “It’s also just incredibly entertaining to watch. There are aerial acrobatics.”

Pinholster said the group is trying to challenge the misconception that a piece of theater that explores important ideas has to be dry and boring.

Co-director Brian Foley, a directing graduate student, said it also explores how human brains store and process information with technology.

The performance addresses the way people interact with other humans without technology.

“We have a rich and ambitious narrative structure,” Foley said. “That is to say there’s not a single hero (and) there’s not a single villain. We’re really telling the story of nine different characters and how these nine individuals are dealing with issues of connection to humanity in this new digital age.”

Foley said research and brainstorming for the performance began about a year ago.  Students incorporated their research to craft the demonstration.

They researched technology in people’s lives, struggles of American drone pilots and their military attacks overseas and scientific and sociological theories on technology.

POVV will premiere Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Lyceum Theatre on the Tempe campus. It is open to the public and tickets will range from $8 to $16.

 

Reach the reporter at jcsolis@asu.edu or on Twitter @jackiecsolis