A live, over-the-phone interactive experience designed for one audience member at a time. Framed as a phone call on her final birthday, the production allows audience members the ability to speak with Sylvia Plath. FIVARS had a chance to speak with director Stepy Kamei.
What lead to the creation of this piece?
This one-of-a-kind interactive project, described by many as an experience unlike anything they’ve done before, was cultivated in the aftermath of heartbreak, the reading and writing of great poetry, and the stunning realization that my narrative time with Sylvia Plath (a writer I have always used as a guidepost for my own life) was rapidly drawing to a close as I approached my 30th birthday – the same age she ended her own life.
While I initially wondered (and worried) if anyone would be interested in this seemingly esoteric piece about a long-deceased writer, it quickly became clear that people resonated deeply with the themes of uncertainty, letting go, and moving forward into the unknown.
What was the production process for you and your team? What did you learn?
Writing this piece took about 2 months. The hardest part was figuring out where to start the piece. Since it’s historical, we had to lock down a specific day we wanted it to take place. Once we figured that out, the writing process was actually pretty quick and smooth. The bulk of production involved testing it out on trusted friends and colleagues, getting their feedback, and tweaking as needed. Immersive theater simply can’t exist without the audience, so I believe test audiences truly are the most important aspect of building an interactive show.
How did you become an immersive media content creator and why?
I have been working as an immersive theater performer since 2016. I made the jump to content creator this year as I realized there was a particular story I had to tell, and I couldn’t wait around twiddling my thumbs, hoping another creator would do it for me. It was very empowering and I plan on being a creator, as opposed to just a performer, going forward!
What is the VR/AR industry like in your region?
In California, there is certainly no shortage of VR/AR experiences and creators!
What do you have planned for the future?
I am planning on continuing to balance live and virtual performance in the months to come! I personally have been very excited by how accessible and immersive an interactive audio drama can be, and I am strongly passionate about telling the stories of those whose voices were taken from them due to violence or tragedy. On that note, I am currently developing a new interactive audio drama which will honor late actress Sharon Tate.
What would you like to share with fellow content creators and/or the industry?
I am so proud of us for being on the forefront of creating exciting, innovative, and unique projects! We are the vanguard, and the world is starting to take notice of our incredible talents, thanks to the support of audience members craving something new, as well as organizations such as FIVARS.
Do you think VR festivals like FIVARS are important?
Absolutely! The past few years have shown that any platform which can make theater and performance globally-accessible is a highly valuable one.