LL Zane: Second Life News by Lora Constantine

The World’s First Complete Reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Historic Blackfriars Theatre

Posted in Uncategorized by Lora Constantine on March 17, 2009

March 17, 2009
Contact: Lora Constantine

The World’s First Complete Reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Historic Blackfriars Theatre

Shakespeare, Second Life—On Saturday, Ina Centaur unveiled to a small gathering of SL Shakespeare Company patrons the most complete rendition of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre in the world. Built to see if “there are any insights to be gained from performing in a fully historicaly accurate ‘lost playhouse,’” Centaur’s reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Blackfriars Theatre is due to grand open to the public the weekend of March 21st.

This re-construction of the Blackfriars Theatre in Second Life is one of two working models in the world. But, Centaur notes that the “Blackfriars Playhouse” re-constructed in RL in Staunton, Virginia is just one interpretation of the interior, without taking into account the actual building the playhouse was built into, “Blackfriars, as the name implies, has quite a lot to do with friars. In fact, the original playhouse was ‘built’ inside a building in a centuries-old stone friary… Nowadays, we would consider [the playhouse] just interior decoration or remodeling.” Centaur explains that from the perspective of a reconstruction historian, “The interesting part in re-creating this would be figuring out how to fit a (presumably) largely wooden interior into a stone chapel or even cathedral-like structure.”

Centaur briefly outlines the research behind the meticulous construction, “I started researching for this project several years ago as a low-time budget hobby as an undergrad. I began by ransacking the books from several UC libraries and binging on interlibrary loans. I was disappointed then, as I am now, by the dearth of published materials specifically on the Blackfriars Theatre itself. But, it gave me a good excuse to read up on a whole lot more seemingly off-tangent stuff… The construction is largely based on Irwin Smith’s interpretation published in the 1960’s, though I’ve taken a somewhat obsessive care to finetune the details—the original structure no longer exists at all, so you can decipher only so little from foundations found in digs, the interior construction can really look like anything. Aside from the usual ‘guessimation’ from period structures that were actually sketched or described, there are letters and written accounts of expenses and other ‘everyday information’ about the Blackfriars that can aid in answering questions as specific as what kind of wood might have been used… It’s a very involved process, conceiving this construction… I will probably publish a paper on [the Blackfriars Theatre].”

Centaur hopes to stage theatrical performances in the virtual reconstruction of the Blackfriars Theatre. When asked what she thought of the significance of this historic theatre being built inside a building of religion, Centaur states, “Theatre is ultimately a very profoundly religious endeavor. I don’t mean this in the sense of any pre-ordained religion, but rather the general idea that there’s some sort of greater good or greater being that exists beyond what’s seen. Each performance is temporal and ephemeral; an actor might play out his best show and not realize it until he reaches the end of his mortal coil—and no one ‘real’ might even get to see it. But, the actor would have experienced it, and if they’re religious: they would believe that God saw it—and that it was good, and that’s all that matters… And, it’s not just symbolism… I think that the fact that this theatre is built inside the remains of a religious building basically makes the relation between actor and venue and back to actor again totally go full circle!”

Centaur, who is also the artistic director of the SL Shakespeare Company, has created several models of the Globe Theatre, as well as a meticulous rendition of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London—which is known as the SL Globe Theatre in Second Life. While Centaur is known for much more, she pays high respect to this endeavor, “Aside from the totally remodeled Skin City sim to be unveiled this summer, I think this is my favorite build on SL thus far. It’s brand new and unique.”

About the SL Shakespeare Company

Set in the virtual world of Second Life (SL), the SL Shakespeare Company (SLSC) is the flagship project of sLiterary’s Virtual Reality Shakespeare Initiative (VRSI). SLSC is a resident-funded and resident-supported professional theatre company that embraces the best of what Second Life (SL) has to offer. While it is primarily known to provide quality live Shakespearean theatre available to anyone in any location, SLSC is also the curator of Second Life’s most historically accurate theatres and architecture relating to William Shakespeare.

About sLiterary

sLiterary, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to furthering literary and artistic endeavors in Second Life and other virtual worlds.

About Second Life

Second Life is a free online virtual world imagined and created by its residents.

Neither the SL Shakespeare Company nor sLiterary is affiliated with Linden Lab. Second Life is a trademark of Linden Lab. No infringement is intended.


SLSC SOS Campaign January Update

Posted in Uncategorized by Lora Constantine on January 22, 2009

January 21, 2009
Contact: Lora Constantine

SLSC SOS Campaign January Update

Shakespeare, Second Life—The SL Shakespeare Company today announced the two-month anniversary of its SOS “Save Our Sims” Campaign. Campaign statistics are available in real-time on the Campaign website @ http://Campaign.SLshakespeare.com. Below are some Campaign notables so far:

The SOS Campaign grand total as of midnight January 21, 2009 is L$789,245.

Over 600 unique avatars donated.

Over 420 donated L$100 or more.
Over 85 donated L$1000 or more.
Over 20 donated L$5000 or more.

Over 250 donation kiosks rezzed across the grid from Anian to Zoha Island E.

The Queen Elizabeth Rainbow Gown One-of-a-Kind (created and donated by Ms. Naergilien Wunderlich) was auctioned off for L$100,000 on December 21, 2008 to Ms. Amase Levasseur, setting the record for the highest price tag on a virtual reconstruction of a historical dress.

The top three donors are Dusan Writer, Amase Levasseur, and the Rockcliffe University Consortium.

Artistic Director Ina Centaur comments, “Thank you for believing in our vision—for seeing the good that can be created within SL itself, for daring to dream about what Second Life can be… for supporting our nascent endeavor of virtual theatre with its lofty dreams of unprecedented quality to reach out to audiences in worlds beyond the virtual, and for helping to ensure our survival. The SL Shakespeare Company can’t exist without you! Thank you.”

While the initial goal of $L1.5 million was not met, the SLSC did meet its 50% goal, which would be enough to pay tier for three of its four island sims for six months, ensuring programming of several productions until then. The Campaign continues.

Both a list of current Campaign kiosks and the link to a kiosk dispenser are available at the Campaign website @ http://campaign.SLshakespeare.com

About the SL Shakespeare Company:

The SL Shakespeare Company (SLSC) is a resident-funded and resident- supported professional theatre company that embraces the best of what Second Life (SL) has to offer. Since 2007, we have been making history by providing extravagant and unforgettable theatrical performances on Second Life. With each show, we continue to shape the field by developing and releasing a new technology for virtual theatre on Second Life. Our vision is to make live Shakespearean theatre available to anyone anywhere with a computer to create new possibilities in entertainment, culture, and commerce for residents of a diverse, unbounded geosphere. Those are the side effects of our mission: to make Shakespeare cool again!

About the SL Shakespeare Company Campaign (Reverse-Chronological since mid-2008):

Open Auditions for the SL Shakespeare Company

Posted in Uncategorized by Lora Constantine on January 15, 2009

SLSC Uncle Shakes Wants You To Audition On Saturday, January 10, the SL Shakespeare Company announced its open audition information for several upcoming productions in 2009. The Company hopes to find actors to perform in its first open-ended run of “Twelfth Night: Act 1,” and other productions. The (voice) open audition will be held at the SL Globe Theatre on Saturday, January 24 at 1 PM SL Time.

The SL Shakespeare Company is Second Life’s premier professional theatre production troupe. According to artistic director Ina Centaur, “Since the beginning, we have been dedicated to creating and bringing serious theatre to Second Life. We hope to continue doing so by reaching out to and connecting the thespians around the world.” Of note from 2008, its inaugural year, the Company performed SL’s first historically accurate Elizabethan production of Hamlet, “In addition to aesthetics and meticulousness, our visual trademark has an emphasis on photorealism that transcends the normal drab SL avatar ‘look’ and needs just a touch of voice to bring the character to life.” Actors who make the cast would receive a complimentary SL skin created based on their RL face. The complete wardrobe from skin to hair to clothing would be designed by costume specialists.

For the open-ended run of Twelfth Night: Act 1, the Company hopes to cast no more than seven voice actors (and possible understudies), with an unlimited number of silent actors (actors with non-speaking roles), for at least one performance per week indefinitely. The date would be determined based on cast availability. Auditions for silent actors will be announced shortly. Those interested should join the SL Shakespeare Company group inworld.

Prospective voice actors are told to arrive early with their SL voice configured and also to be familiar with the first act of Twelfth Night, “Please be prepared to perform a passage (no more than 5 minutes) of your choice from ‘Twelfth Night: Act 1,’ a passage of my choice, and possibly another unrelated passage. See you at 1 PM on January 24th.”

For more information on the SL Shakespeare Company and updates on upcoming events, please check out their blog @ http://blog.SLshakespeare.com

SL Shakespeare SOS Fundraiser

Posted in Uncategorized by Lora Constantine on November 22, 2008

SL Shakespeare SOS Fundraiser

Shakespeare, Second Life: Though hinted at on more than one occasion, Ina Centaur yesterday officially announced the SL Shakespeare Company’s SOS “Save Our Sims” Fundraising Campaign-its purpose, according to Centaur, is to meet “a modest though desperately needed sum to pay land tier fees to Linden Lab.” Through funding from microeconomics a la a grid-wide network of donation kiosks, the “SOS” campaign goal is to meet L$1.5 million by January 21, 2009, which at the current LindeX rate for selling would translate to about USD$5300, meeting six month’s tier for three of the island sims that host the SL Globe Theatre venue and similarly daring literary and artistic projects. Centaur plans to fund the fourth sim through her own endeavors, to keep the SL Globe Theatre four sims in size, as well as to continue existing endeavors on the sims in trying to make the enterprise self-sufficient.

At high noon on November 21st, Ina Centaur, Artistic Director of the SL Shakespeare Company, greeted a small crowd of fans and supporters at the SL Globe Theatre before launching a speech that revealed the funding state of the Company, as well as some unexpected humanitarian results of their endeavors. The Company’s performances have reached both those in rural areas and also low-income urban districts, introducing many to the culture of theatre and Shakespearean performances. Centaur summarized with the words, “Perhaps the greatest thing that has evolved from our endeavors is that it has become a truly humanitarian cause that we are fighting for-to bring theatre to the farthest reaches of the world, to give Shakespeare to those who would not have had the chance to experience his words in the live and intimate form they were written for, to use this nascent medium to bring the most quintessential culture to the metaverse and beyond.”

Various donation kiosks are available for those who wish to help the SL Shakespeare Company in their campaign. Supporters may drop by the SL Globe Theatre or the Campaign headquarters, directly to obtain copies of kiosks. The Campaign website contains up-to-the-second stats and other information, as well as links to the inworld Campaign headquarter to obtain kiosks http://campaign.SLshakespeare.com

Centaur explained that a 4-sim venue is a necessity for their shows, “To make sure all can attend, and to minimize the lag.” In addition, the sims listed on the main SOS banners-sLiterary, Shakespeare, and Primtings-also support several other notable literary and artistic projects. Centaur stated the best way to find out about each is to spend some time exploring the sims, or to visit their campaign website above for brief summaries.

Although many may consider Centaur’s activites to be merely great art, after mentioning a few examples of lives their endeavors have touched, she summarized their goal as of a greater significance, “Our goal is to create good within Second Life for the world to thrive from-because it is possible. We have been doing it, and we want to continue doing it, but we won’t be able to if we become homeless-we would have neither the energy or the base to go from.”

Centaur concluded the session with the haunting words, “You are our last hope. If you can’t help us, then I’m afraid to say we are truly lost.”