The first paper after lunch (a great slot to be given at a conference) was a dual presentation, “Observations on Staging the Ludi Virtuales”, which was begun by RB from the School of Theatre Studies at King’s College London, who showed his training at the Yale school of Drama in his excellent and effortless reading, with a casual leaning against the podium and a voice that carried beautifully.
This first part could be said to be the theoretical framework and historical reasoning for the second part, that was to present the virtual, reconstructed theatres and their uses, and we thus were treated to an overview of historical and philosophical back-story. Once again we ventured into questioning what is “real”, with the stage evoking multiple realities, simultaneously existing possible worlds and even reflecting something of reality itself, and linking the actual with the mythical.
Skipping some of my notes here in an effort to actually be brief, I however find I don’t want to skip over the mention of the so called memory castles, a mnemonic technique, a ancient device to remember and recall texts or facts, by envisioning them stored in different rooms and cupboards in a imaginary palace, one “stores” the memory on an appropriate shelf in a specific room, and for recalling this, you return to this place, and find this fact or text. This moving through an imaginary castle is similar to computer games, and like in such a world of illusion we hold ourselves in place by memory, and memory was held by illusion. Yep.
Moving on to the second part of the presentation by HD, from the wonderfully named The Centre for Computing in the Humanities, and we were shown these fascinating recreations of roman theatres. They have placed some of these in Second Life, you can watch them being built, but also interact with said buildings. (Let’s not get into the discussion what such educational endeavours mean for Second Life, some say it’s the end of it.)
There ahs also been efforts to stage plays on these virtual theatres. By filming actors in front of a blue screen, one has been able to place some action on these ancient and missing stages. (among other Japanese actors from the noh-tradition have been used for their experience in pantomime and masks).
The theater of Pompey was specifically discussed, which is relevant for the next paper, and the whole science in general of visualisations such as of this long gone but important building.
The important thing is, it was said, not to get the reconstruction absolutely right (since we’ll never really know), but , but having your methodology right and open, so people can follow reasoning, and publishing the sources, whatever they are that you rely on. The London charter principles regarding historical visualisation clearly outline this. (Highly interesting!)
This was a incredibly presented paper, thanks is both due to the dramatic reading of RB (who I had the great fortune of sitting next to at the fancy conference dinner and greatly entertained me with stories of past Yale-days, and run ins with future presidents and presidential candidates), and the passion and enthusiasm of HD, which was quite catching.
I’m kinda not succeeding in the brevity-department.