ATHEMOO

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ATHEMOO was a MOO which was created in 1995 at the University of Hawaii as an online performance and teaching space, for a professionals and academics who were interested in theatre.[1][2] A MOO is an online text based reality which is used for socialising or game playing. They are user driven with many people coming together to create new worlds out of text.[3]

ATHEMOO was developed in conjunction with the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) and was designed originally under the auspices of providing a discussion space for people who were unable to attend conferences on the issues of performance theatre in the United States of America.[4][5] Originally ATHEMOO was designed so that all of the online open areas looked like a Hotel Lobby.[6] At the time of ATHEMOO's establishment there were over 2200 members of ATHE, half of which were earning under $20,000 a year; it was therefore decided at the ATHE conference in 1993 that ATHEMOO would be created to help all members discuss and learn from the ATHE conferences.[7]

Although ATHEMOO was originally conceived as a discussion space the creator realised its potential as a performative arena for the use and proliferation of online interactive performance.[8] Audience members and any participants in a performance would be invited to visit the website at a time when the performance starts. Once the performance has started the actors playing a role within the performance space in ATHEMOO exist both within the virtual and physical world, thus creating two simultaneous performances. In some cases actors would meet in the physical world to rehearse work they would be performing in ATHEMOO.[9]

Notable performances[edit]

In its first year ATHEMOO hosted numerous performance events, in March 1996, Charles Deemer reproduced his hyper drama, "Bride of Edgefield," a play made entirely out of hypertext in the ATHEMOO space. Charles Deemer is an award winning playwright who has worked since 1991 creating 5 different hyperplays. The second performer to use ATHEMOO as a performance space in March 1996 was Cat Herbert who produced a piece in conjunction with Crosswaves Festival in Philadelphia.[10]

In late 1996 Stephen A. Schrum created a performance entitled "NetSeduction," the piece was, "set in a internet chat room and meeting place, with a bar, dance floor, and people to meet."[11] This performance proved to be controversial with a moderator from ATHEMOO, who was concerned that the exchange of sexual dialogue may cause offence to any audience members.[12]

In 2000 Karen Wheatley produced an entirely online performance experience entitled "Scheherezade's Daughters." In this performance the performers had never met in the physical world, but rather had exchanged ideas and rehearsed through email. The performers logged on and 'performed' the play with dialogue typed out and any movement or settings described in detail for any audience members. During this performance audience members were able to take part whenever they wanted to, either by registering to be an ATHEMOO character,or by emailing a member of the cast and requesting to temporarily perform one of the roles still in existence in the performance. This form of semi-improvisational performance allowed the audience to both watch and interact at the same time. Meaning that while the performance had a set narrative which it would follow to start with, this could change completely depending on how much the audience interacted.[13]

Decline[edit]

ATHEMOO as one of the first online text based performance arenas demonstrated that the internet is a receptive and interesting space for online text based performance. Its purpose was to discover how a MOO environment would develop around improvisational performance, and what improvisation would look like if it were viewed online. Like many MOO's in the 1990s ATHEMOO was regularly affected by connection dropout, slow connection and lag. This regular disruption became part of the charm of ATHEMOO and highlighted the risk inherent in any live performance event. As 3D virtual avatar based worlds, such as Second Life, became more popular ATHEMOO lost its appeal, the audience numbers declined leading to its closure.[14][15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sant, Toni and Flintoff, Kim. [1], 24 July 2007. Retrieved on 29 October 2012.
  2. ^ "ATHEMOO Basic Information" [2] Retrieved 28 October 2012
  3. ^ WiseGEEK [3], 2008. Retrieved on 29 October 2012.
  4. ^ Rik's Cafe [4]. Retrieved on 25th October 2012.
  5. ^ Schrum, Stephen. "Theatre in Cyberspace", Pg 110 Peter Lang Publishing, New York, 1999. ISBN 978-0-8204-4140-5
  6. ^ Cremona, Vicki. "Theatrical Events: Borders, Dynamics, Frames", Pg 310 International Foundation for Theatre Research, Amsterdam, 2004. ISBN 90-420-1068-1
  7. ^ Schrum, Stephen. "Theatre in Cyberspace", Pg 112 Peter Lang Publishing, New York, 1999. ISBN 978-0-8204-4140-5
  8. ^ Schrum, Stephen. "Theatre in Cyberspace", Pg 116 Peter Lang Publishing, New York, 1999. ISBN 978-0-8204-4140-5
  9. ^ Cremona, Vicki. "Theatrical Events: Borders, Dynamics, Frames", Pg 311 International Foundation for Theatre Research, Amsterdam, 2004. ISBN 90-420-1068-1
  10. ^ Haynes, Cynthia. "High Wired: On the Design, Use, and Theory of Educational MOOs", Pg 264 University of Michigan, Michigan, 1998. ISBN 0-472-08838-6
  11. ^ Danet, Brenda. "Cyberpl@y: Communicating online", Pg 151 Berg, Oxford, 2001. ISBN 1-85973-419-7
  12. ^ Cymposium. [5], 2012. Retrieved on 20 October 2012.
  13. ^ Cremona, Vicki. "Theatrical Events: Borders, Dynamics, Frames", Pg 312 International Foundation for Theatre Research, Amsterdam, 2004. ISBN 90-420-1068-1
  14. ^ Sant, Toni and Flintoff, Kim. [6], 24 July 2007. Retrieved on 29 October 2012.
  15. ^ Haynes, Cynthia. "High Wired: On the Design, Use, and Theory of Educational MOOs", Pg 244 University of Michigan, Michigan, 1998. ISBN 0-472-08838-6