By: Madeleine Chan, Staff Writer
Skeptical was the best word you could have used to describe my feelings prior to attending this performance. The description for Good Things to Do, presented by The Good Things Collective of Vancouver’s Rumble Theatre, was vague at best, using words like “dreamscape,” “immersive” to describe its digital non-performance performance. Nevertheless, I was intrigued.
After a $5 ticket, I was emailed instructions that called for a comfortable atmosphere to sit in for my “solo journey.” So, at my designated time, I hunkered down in the darkest corner of my room, turned off the lights, and waited.
Sitting there in the near-dark with the soft rainfall they had playing, I was more confused than ever. I truly did not know what to expect. But when the performance began, it was immediately interesting. It was mainly text-based, with words being typed out “Shall we play a game?” style, the faceless sentience trying to get to know me only through letters. Despite feeling slightly creeped out and having flashbacks to all dystopian A.I. media ever, staring at the calming teal sea covering the screen, I felt a slow pull into its world.
A violinist’s lulling strings began the piece, letting me really sink into it. Then, from the perspective of possibly a lost friend, an old lover, or a simple stranger — I couldn’t quite tell and it was never explicitly stated — a recollection of a fantastical dream was detailed. The text-based narrator was talking to me as if they had known me forever, taking me through their dream-based journey with me as its star. Sounds of wading through water and distant wildlife accompanied the story and were like a flood of pacification that reminded me of good times outdoors. It was almost like a narrative poem with how overarching and grand it felt.
Once the story of the dream was told we, as the audience, got to type out some of our own favourite good things. It was incredible, seeing others’ words surge onto the screen like electricity firing in a brain, memories of better times and nicer feelings very apparent in their choices. As I added examples like “cool night air” and “a rare smile,” I couldn’t help but reminisce.
And just like that, it was done. I couldn’t believe it. How could 45 minutes pass so fast? I felt myself yearning for more, for the blissful story to continue so I wouldn’t have to let go of this airy feeling. But I think that’s what the performance was getting at: hold onto the good things, know that they are always there and that you will return to them.
What topped it all off was that the day after the performance I got one last email containing a photo with all the good things we had listed, handwritten and arranged on a needlepoint canvas. The photo itself felt like another good thing to add to the list.
Co-creators Christine Quintana and Molly MacKinnon did a great job of adapting a performance conceived in the tumultuous times of 2016, for the digital realities of our present. It was a beautiful blend of text and sound that created a serene and healing environment.
Phenomenal poetic description brought me back to a time of unforced smiles and unscheduled days, of toes in the sand and hands in the air. The run has unfortunately come to an end, but they plan on bringing it to the physical world sometime in the future. For now, I suggest you check out Rumble Theatre’s other digital events. It seems like a very good thing to do.