Beer, bugs and theatre

All abuzz about Insectotròpics and wù!  From the hands of Insectotròpics' painter Xanu (
All abuzz about Insectotròpics and the wù Collective! From the hands of Insectotròpics' painter Xanu (

This past Tuesday we were invited, by the Insectotròpics theatre troupe, to participate in an event presenting the Programa Suport a la Creació 2013 (production grants) from FiraTàrrega (an international performing and street arts festival in Tàrrega, Catalunya). The event was held at Barcelona’s beautiful Fàbrica Moritz (historical brewery), recently redesigned by architect Jean Nouvel.

Our friends from Insectotròpics are incorporating our Teatrillu software into their upcoming theatre production, BZZ, and we were delighted to be asked to be there with them at this event. And not only because of the free Moritz beer…

It was a great to be part of this event, which gave the public a preview of some early work on the Insects’ next piece, to be premiered at FiraTàrrega this September. Since January 2013, we’ve been invited to some of their rehearsals and production sessions, helping them incorporate our Teatrillu into their show. Among other things, our software will allow them to do live stop-motion animation and interactive visual trickery — allowing bits of paper, blobs of paint and other objects to take on a life of their own.

Here is some more (raw) footage from the Insectotròpics’ Moritz event, some of which shows the Teatrillu in action (thanks to Vicenç):

Teatrillu for the masses

El Teatrillu (a Catalan diminutive of teatre, meaning: “little theatre”) is software for the performing arts. It’s an application I’ve been working on with the other members of the Wù:: collective. Alex and Roger had already created the first version of this software — a mix of interactive theatre, live stop-motion animation, puppeteering and digital sleight of hand — when I came along last summer and asked if I could join the party. Once indoctrinated into their “collective”, I helped organize and tidy the code, added some new features, and started thinking about how to take the ideas from their prototype and develop them more completely in a rewrite. Then, in November 2012, we won a grant from Telenoika, a Barcelona-based “creative audiovisual community”, to continue this work and ultimately release a more refined second version to the public as open source software.

Since the start of this year, we’ve been working with the folks from Insectotròpics, with the idea that they use our software in their upcoming theatre production. We’ve found (not surprisingly) that speaking with real users has helped us to discover the possibilities and limitations of our own program, to figure out what works and what doesn’t, and to add to our never-ending list of “cool ideas” we’d like to implement. (Unfortunately, each of us likes to keep many plates spinning at the same time, so work recently has lagged on Teatrillu.)

In order to get more feedback, and to re-energize us, tomorrow we have an “evening of open experimentation” with our current Teatrillu software, to let the public play with it, give us their thoughts, ask us questions. It’s not a workshop — hopefully that will come in the future — but more of an open (play)house. Thanks to Telenoika for offering us their space in el Raval (c/ Sant Pau, 58) to hold this event, Thursday April 4, from 18h to 21h.

Live coding: I know, I haven’t yet posted any comment on my live coding performance of March 22. It went well; a small but enthusiastic crowd of maybe 25-30 people(?) came out. After weeks of trying all kinds of experiments, fretting and rehearsing, I was glad to get on with it, and ended up quite happy with my performance. The reaction from the crowd and comments afterwards were very favourable (Josep, the Laptop Orchestra’s director, even said that it: “…reminded [him] of the image of Bach improvising a fugue” — then again, he’s known for being extremely generous with his praise!). For me, it was a nice, relatively stress-free introduction to this new kind of performance. Thanks to Gerard and Graham for letting me in on this, their 2nd annual event!

I recorded ambient audio in the room, but it’s not too exciting without also seeing what’s going on on the screen at the same time (and even then…). I’m still hoping to get ahold of some video footage that was shot at the event and that shows the screen and code clearly enough. If I get some, I’ll put something up on Youtube or Vimeo, and link to it here.