How would you describe WINDOW?
Rei: Recently I described it as a theatrical video game. Or is a video game performance? Or is it a theatre with video game elements? Then I got confused (laughs).
Cheryl: I recently described it as visual storytelling. It’s a genre that is increasingly popular in a lot of indie games right now. Some games are not games, but it’s a visual storybook. Rather than giving you objectives that you have to complete, with visual storybooks, you are just there aiding the journey. It has very simple game mechanics. For example, if you click this button, you’ll receive a letter. That’s basically all the gameplay there is.
You both have been thinking about the question “is it theatre?” Is this important to you?
Rei: I’ve started to not call ATTEMPTS a theatre company. I started to use the word “performance” more.
Cheryl: I don’t say we say “do theatre”. I say we “create experiences”.
Rei: I think that’s great. Because it’s just a collective of minds, right? That’s why I say we create participatory performances, and to me, that’s good enough. Then by us designing a video game that is performative and participative, and that’s part of what we do.
Actually, we did discuss the possibility of making it non-live, that means we create an actual video game out of it, put it on Steam, and sell it. So at least next time we can say “Yes, we have a video game, here’s the link”.
Rei: Yeah, it is quite cool.
Cheryl: But it was a struggle though. When COVID started, people were saying “theatre is this”, and if you’re doing digital shows, you’re not doing theatre. So where does ATTEMPTS lie? Like if it doesn’t look like theatre is that ok? Is it still theatre?
It becomes a bit existential.
Cheryl: In WINDOW, there’s someone there with you. And what you say to this person will change the way you experience things. It’s like what Peter Brook says:
“I can take any empty space and call it a bare stage. A man walks across an empty space whilst someone else is watching him, and this is all that is needed for an act of theatre to be engaged.”
And for me, it works – there’s an audience-actor relationship being established. That connection is important for me. Whether it’s online or offline.
WINDOW by ATTEMPTS x The Doodle People takes place from 25-27 March 2022. Tickets at $30. Click here for info.
Best viewed on your Windows PC or laptop. Game stations are also available at 42 Waterloo Street for Mac users.
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About the author(s)
Nabilah Said is an award-winning playwright, editor and cultural commentator. She is also an artist who works with text across various artforms and formats. Her plays have been staged in Singapore and London, including ANGKAT, which won Best Original Script at the 2020 Life Theatre Awards. Nabilah is the former editor of ArtsEquator.