[ISEA2011] Paper: Johanna Dangel & Gesa Friederichs-Büttner – Parcival XX-XI goes Digital: New Media as part of a Gesamtkunstwerk


Parcival XX-XI (2010/2011) is a transdisciplinary political dance-theatre production by the Company urbanReflects. It interweaves elements of New Dance, Digital Media and socially relevant questions and unites them to a gesamtkunstwerk.

In Parcival XX-XI, we investigate possibilities and limitations of Digital Media in a participatory performance. We actively include the audience into the creation of the play. Passive spectators merge into active performers and can thus collaborate in designing the experience of Parcival XX-XI for oneself and the other spectators.

First, we introduce how in our production a.) the dancer and b.) the audience can interact with digital content as they perform with and through responsive technology-based interfaces. Second, we discuss to what extent digital media can significantly support and enhance the performer’s ‘abilities’ in the context of aesthetic experience and narration / dramaturgy.

On the one hand, we evaluate the rehearsal process of Parcival XX-XI and reflect on why we excluded certain digital media elements. On the other hand, we explore how the integration of selected digital media affects a) the performer / the production and b) the audience / reception during the performance. To do so, we focus on the following questions: What happens in case of failing technology? What happens if the user (performer or audience) is incapable of properly using the offered technology? What happens if the selected digital medium does not produce catchy moments?

The presentation is planned as a dialogue. While Gesa Friederichs-Büttner exposes the possibilities of participatory digital media elements in performances, Johanna Meier reflects on the limitations.

  • Johanna Dangel works as a dramaturgist for the dance Company urbanReflects (Freiburg/Germany). Researcher at the Zurcher University of the Arts (Zurich, Switzerland) about the concept of authenticity in contemporary theater and about theatrical interventions in public space (head of research projects: Imanuel Schipper).
  • Gesa Friederichs-Büttner (born 1981) is a media artist and researcher at the University of Bremen, Germany, working at the intersections of digital media and theater / performances. She holds a B.Sc. in Digital Media (Bremen) and a M.Sc. in Art and Technology (Gothenborg, Sweden).

Full text (PDF) p. 865-871