Be an ass: Kelowna art project encourages audience to play donkey video game - InfoNews

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Be an ass: Kelowna art project encourages audience to play donkey video game

Asses.masses will be shown at the Mary Irwin Theatre Feb. 28.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Meg Nanna
February 27, 2020 - 6:30 PM

Blending their love of videos games with interactive theatre, two Vancouver citizens want to see how Central Okanagan locals perform when they’re handed a joystick.

Asses.masses is a series of short video games following the narratives of multiple donkeys as they contemplate labour politics and protest against their human oppressors.

In each performance, audience members step forward to seize a controller to lead the asses to pursue a just life.

The video game performance may contain deeper themes like the journey through the obsolescence of the manual labourer, political idealism, digital labour, and virtual revolution, but the audience can also just have fun with it, said co-creator Patrick Blenkarn.

“We have an hour-long performance coming to Kelowna where it’s a video game that we built and the audience has the responsibility of playing their way through it,” said co-creator Milton Lim.

But it’s up to the audience members on how they do that. The creators aren't going to give directions on how the game series should be played.

MLIM | asses.masses Trailer 2020 from Milton Lim on Vimeo.

Reminiscent of the Guitar Hero days, where kids patiently waited for their turn while friends rocked out to solos from Slash, the Rolling Stones and other famous musicians, this performance will give the audience one controller, “just like the politics of the arcade,” Blenkarn said.

Drawing from their desire to test the boundaries on what makes a theatrical performance, they recognize video games as a means to question "what is spectatorship and what is collaboration and what is playful performance,” Lim said. “The engagement is much more than the person who has the controller.”

“There are times it’s satire and other times where it will generally (emulate) what a donkey revolution will look like,” Blenkarn said.

The series will integrate a variety of video-game styles, from platform to third-person.

“The short of it is, that yes, you are a donkey,” Lim said.

Assess.masses takes place Friday, Feb. 28, at 7:15 p.m. at the Mary Irwin Theatre in the Rotary Centre for the Arts.

Tickets are $23 for adults and available through the Rotary Centre for the Arts website.


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