By Mat Wilkins
VANCOUVER – The World Wide Web can sometimes seem like the villain in a B-list thriller about genetic engineering gone awry. It’s self sustaining! It can’t be stopped! We don’t understand it! Et cetera, et cetera. On the flip side, internet technology still manages to permeate our existence such that a hefty majority of us end up spending more quality time with our computers and phones than with our families, friends, cats, dogs, and all other unlisted creatures we know and love. So what role does this humongous thing play in our lives? What role should it play?
Enter TJ Dawe and Itai Erdal, the creator/performer duo responsible for Hyperlink. A show that explores the highs and lows of life in cyberspace, Hyperlink is a collection of stories about online interactions, performed and shared in a manner attempting to replicate how information moves through the internet itself — literally placing the confusing, alluring, heartbreaking internet experience directly in the spotlight.
“The internet is part of our lives. A significant portion of my life — and that of everyone I know — is spent staring at a screen… And this is not talked about on stage,” says Dawe of the various conversations that led to the show’s creation. After numerous brainstorming sessions about the nature and purpose of the web, Erdal, Dawe, and the rest of the production crew settled on an important thematic motivator behind the show: awareness. “What I hope is that [Hyperlink] just generates conversation about the internet… Just talking about it… I like the fact that theatre can generate discussion, I think that’s [its] advantage.”
Neither anti- nor pro- internet propaganda, Hyperlink is an attempt to showcase online experience in a unique space, helping us consider the part it plays in all our lives as objectively as we can.
“The internet was created by adults in order to share information with each other. It has since been used more by young people… to connect socially with each other,” Dawe says, recounting a past discussion he had with renowned physician, author, and speaker, Dr. Gabor Maté. “It’s being used for something it wasn’t set up for to address needs it was never meant to address. So we’re kind of making up the rules as we go.”
So it seems the internet is neither a big scary monster, nor should it be our very best friend. Hyperlink is a unique multimedia performance that inhabits this grey area, mining the internet’s ethical mess (that we so often navigate through without a second thought) and emerging with stories and performances that will surely give all of us fresh new perspectives, undoubtedly worth talking — or typing — about.
Hyperlink runs from October 4 – 14 at Firehall Arts Centre.Firehall Arts Centre, Hyperlink, theatre