Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Dickens Project - Virtual Immerson in Literature

Over the past four years I have had the growing desire to explore how the Virtual World can extend the immersion of a live voice presentation of literature.  The Dickens Project is a beta test of that idea, and so far the test is pretty successful.  The idea being that the environment supports and promotes the literature, much as a stage set does, but it is a set that the audience walks through and interacts with in a way that a seated audience does not.  Theme Park?  Perhaps.  But ultimately the environment is a frame for the words spoken in voice.  Without the live activity, its just more pretty data.

The "Big Dream" is to do a much broader build that would allow the performer/presenter to guide the audience through a tour of "Christmas Past", "Christmas Present" and "Christmas Yet to Come" with Dickens' own words as the core - walking in the steps of Ebenezer Scrooge, as it were.

I have been listening to storytellers all week read Dickens words.  I have to agree with my friend Klannex Northmead - a Londoner with a lovely growly voice - who hit it on the nose when he said that most stage adaptations simply lift the dialogue from the book. So much about what makes Dickens a memorable author are the descriptions and side bars he makes along the way.  Some that hit you like a ton of bricks with their wisdom.  Some that are so vivid that you know it could never be fully realized in a live production.  The description of the shops from Stave Three always make me a little light headed, and I suspect has sent more than one Prop Master into seizures over the years.

Here are shots of the beta test environment, and its various interactive elements ...

The Dickens Project in Second Life (c) - Street View
Top View - second level interconnected by walkways
Entryway - Exterior View
Entryway - Interior View with Scrooge & Marley's (sittable Cratchit & Scrooge Desks)
The Grocer's Shop - Exterior View

The Poulterer's Shop - Exterior view

The Grocer's Shop - Interior View (lot's of items to click on an get things)

The Poulterer's Shop - Interior View (likewise, very "clickable")
The Bookseller's Shop - Exterior View

Bookseller's Shop - Interior (copies of selected Dickens' texts available)
Three "Illustration Gardens" running slide shows of images from "Christmas Past"

..."Christmas Present" ...
... and "Christmas Yet to Come" with words inspiring different artists over centuries.

Three Galleries (second level) with panels linked to online resources: Dickens' London

... Notable Scrooges ...
... The Works of Charles Dickens (I love this room!)

Residents of Second Life (c) gathered at The Dickens Project to listen to a live voice presentation of  Stave Three of "A Christmas Carol" read by Kayden Oconnell

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