This year saw the opening of Let The Right One In by The National Theatre of Scotland. A brand new stage adaptation of the Swedish book, which in turn also has two mainstream films. The show was a huge success and for me personally, was leaps and bounds beyond both the films.
The music alone from Ólafur Arnalds is some of the most haunting pieces I’ve ever heard (you might have heard some of his stuff used in Broadchurch recently)
But this show wasn’t the beginning of The National Theatre of Scotland’s work in Dundee. In fact, NTS’ creative learning team had been busy months prior creating an exciting and media crossing project, known as: Other. But what is Other? “Perhaps, Other is Deja Vu. Perhaps Other is a dream, you can’t quite remember. Perhaps Other is that thing in the corner of your eye that you thought you saw. Perhaps.” Perhaps these are also the very lines I spoke to the audience during Other.
Rather than creating one specific piece, or working with one specific group NTS engaged with a number of different groups, including Dundee Rep Community groups, Dundee College, Abertay University, Games Developer Quartic Llama, local film makers and writers all over the city creating distinct and interesting opportunities.
The Other project began with news of a live, site specific Theatre show based on horror elements and ghost stories, written by a local writing group. This show would exist in itself but also lead into the launch of the Other app for iPhone. Which takes those who dare on a similar ghost tour of Dundee with the use of augmented reality. The live show would also showcase new films created in horror themed 48 Film Competition and games created in a Games Jam.
I’ve done site specific theatre before, but Other Live was extremely different from anything I had ever done. The thing that immediately struck me was the ownership that was encouraged regarding whichever character you were playing. You were not only able to change and explore but encouraged to do so. This is very important for an actor and especially a community actor to have any kind of development process.
I played one of four ghostly tour guides throughout the show. I had the distinct honour of being the first actor the audience witnessed along with one of the only actors to utilise dialogue. The tour begins relatively normal, so for my part, I was relatively “normal” yet threatening, welcoming yet mysterious.
As mentioned, community writers collaborated in creating aspects of the tour and stories that would be used in both the tour and the App. The Live, theatrical portion is essentially a culmination of these efforts and sees groups from Dundee Rep embody these other characters in an exciting piece of dynamic theatre in which the audience tour the city encountering characters, moments and imagery.
I also got the chance to work with Deaf Actors who were also involved in the production. Not only was it a fascinating process but great to see any kind of barriers removed. We were all, simply performers. This concious decision to utilise deaf performers also ensured that the production itself was accessible to a deaf audience and the reaction from members of the audience who were deaf was terrific. Some, feeling it was more accessible and effective to a deaf audience than a hearing audience.
The scope of Other Live is extremely impressive and as a participant, each moment is ever changing and fascinating. Seeing actors engage with a genre that they may have no prior experience of is a joy to watch. I commend the National Theatre of Scotland and Dundee Rep for the level of engagement, creativity and ingenuity that was put into every aspect of Other to create such a unique opportunity for both audience and participants.
The Other app can be downloaded right now from iTunes and if you’re in Dundee I’d highly recommend it. If nothing else, you probably haven’t experienced anything like it before. You can also check out the Scrapbook of movies and games created during the project here at http://otherdundee.com/scrapbook/.