RAID 2.0/MYRMIDON, written and composed by Alaina Ferris and directed by SARAH HUGHES, is an augmented reality musical about four female-identifying friends and one gender-non-binary computer who log on every day to play a multiplayer fantasy RPG. Inspired both by early command-based games like Zork and early MMORPGs, RAID 2.0 is a whimsical and visually immersive RPG chorale.
The four avatars, RED, BEATHAG, LILITH, KAT, and our feisty COMPUTER meet each other online. Finding camaraderie through questing, they perform elaborate French court dances choreographed by COCO KAROL, sing experimental chorales, play folk songs, and decide the best tactic to make a grilled cheese sandwich. Their friendships with each other enrichen as they learn about their real lives, argue about dungeon maps, and fight battles. Over the course of RAID 2.0, we realize that the avatars are not just playing an RPG, they are healing from “real world” traumas and finding empowerment through positive gameplay.
Featuring video game projection-design by DAVID PYM, under the advisement of game designer Matt Parker and virtual-reality technician Todd Bryant, RAID 2.0/MYRMIDON seeks to create an immersive world in a white-box theater, with audience formatted in theater in the round.
Notes About the Piece>>
This piece pushes past traditional video game narratives of warfare and masculinity, re-making a world where women find strength and recovery through collective action. Collaborative gameplay and performance share an important neurological through-line: they are right-brain activities that exercise imagination and empathy building. Trauma, meanwhile, can shut down left-brain activities such as logic and language. Game designer Celia Pearce says, “Play is spiritual. It can create a type of bond that happens nowhere else, a bond between strangers [...] play styles are mobile, they can move across virtual worlds and even into the real world, transcending context.” A collaborative, virtual space — whether an MMORPG or a live musical theater performance — is a pivotal tool for healing because, with the imagination at the forefront, survivors can communicate in a safe way, effectively rewiring their left-brain. Alternate realities, therefore, are effective spaces for rebuilding trust and self-empowerment.
RAID 2.0/MYRMIDON is located at the nexus between psychology, technology, and live performance. It connects the music, theatrical, gaming and new technological communities. It embodies an interdisciplinary spirit and the idea that various art forms are more connected than disparate. It confronts the narrative of video games as being isolating and violent and instead demonstrates their ability, like that of collaboratively created performance, to heal and unify. Combining live musical performance, interactive AR technology, video projection, and motion-captured choreography, we seek to tackle the larger social issue of sexual assault by modeling effective ways to communicate about it. We seek to create a piece that is in itself a healing act.