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Expanded Performance Category

Theatre Vs Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2

by Oliver Langdon

Developing projects for young people can be difficult, so as part of his Fellowship Olly decided to involve one in his creative process. Below are a series of emails and text exchages between him and his twelve year old Nephew, Josh.


Oliver Langdon <kilterolly@gmail.com>


Helen Langdon <XXXXXXXXXX@googlemail.com>


Jul 7, 2020, 8:39 PM


Email for Josh...




Important because you marked it as important.

Dear Hels,

What do you think of the below? Do you think Josh'd be up for it? Might there be something useful in it for school or just for life?

Don't worry if you don't think it's right. I can find some other young people or just write these emails without sending them! It's a useful format for expressing thoughts I think.

Hope all well with you. All good here. Very quiet. For now!



Dear Josh,

I am doing a Fellowship at the moment with the Universities of Bristol & Bath. That's actually 4 universities, not 2, because each city has got 2. I feel like I should grow a very long beard & start smoking a pipe.

Unfortunately, being a fellow isn't really anything more exciting than another way of saying 'researcher' & being a researcher is just another way of saying being curious & asking questions about a certain subject.

The subject I've been given is 'expanded performance'. 'What does that mean?', I hear you say... 'and what's it got to do with us?'

Well, you know the kind of work that Caroline & I normally make with Kilter - performance but with a bit extra? We don't often perform on a big stage in front of an audience sitting in the dark. We think it's more interesting to make plays that invite the audience to participate a bit or to have different experiences as well as just watching & listening. Like tasting the same food that the characters are eating in the play for instance. Well, that is an example of an 'expanded performance'.

Anyway, I have been given a year to research ways that you might 'expand performances' for young people using digital technology. That might be anything from how the audience could use their phones during a show to perhaps giving out Virtual Reality headsets so that the performers appear differently. There's loads of possibilities & there are loads of fellows working at the same time as me to investigate different ideas.

Anyway, I need to keep a log of my research as I go & I thought - since my target audience is younger people - it would be interesting to keep a record of my thoughts as they develop as a series of communications with people like YOU & maybe some other young people I know too... It might be emails or whatsapps or even actual face-to-socially-distanced-face conversations!! I don't know. If you're interested & you have ideas, you can suggest them. I thought reading real life exchanges might be more interesting for people finding out about what I have been doing than just presenting my work like an essay.

Would you be up for it? If it works out & the producers (bosses!) like it then it could go on until early next year.... but it won't be loads & loads. It'll mainly be me writing & you don't have to write much back if you don't feel like it but sometimes you might have some really useful ideas. Whatever we come up with could really change the way that people make theatre so it's quiteimportant!

Let me know if you're up for it & any reactions!!

Thanks man. Hope you're doing all right & not too bored of being stuck at home.

See you soon... with a new cousin!

Lots of love,

Uncle O.

Oliver Langdon

Artistic Director

Kilter Theatre

Kilter is a Co-Op Community Fund Recipient 2020. Please nominate us as your chosen cause.

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Helen Langdon <XXXXXXXXXXXXX@googlemail.com>


Oliver Langdon <kilterolly@gmail.com>


Jul 14, 2020, 10:58 AM


Re: Re Joshy






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Important mainly because it was sent directly to you.


Just had a chat with him and he’s up for it so feel free to start a WhatsApp. You may need to probe for the detail you need and if you're not getting much let me know and I can facilitate a discussion with him.


14/07/2020, 19:41 - Messages to this group are now secured with end-to-end encryption. Tap for more info.

14/07/2020, 19:41 - You created group "Tech around performance"

14/07/2020, 19:59 - Olly: Hi Josh. Pleased to hear that u r up for being a listener-inner & maybe an ideas man for my fellowship. Thanks!

15/07/2020, 09:32 - Josj Langdon: Hello, I'm looking forward to it

15/07/2020, 09:33 - Olly: Did yr Mum share that long explainy email with u?

15/07/2020, 09:34 - Josj Langdon: Yuo

15/07/2020, 09:34 - Josj Langdon: *yup

15/07/2020, 09:36 - Olly: Cool. I'll b more specific when I get round to it but is there anything that it makes u think of immediately? Like films or books or anything you've heard of at school or thru friends?

15/07/2020, 09:44 - Josj Langdon: Not of the top of my head no


05/08/2020, 22:24 - Olly: While u think about it, here's a more specific thing to think about...

One project I'm working on is for 8-12 year olds, living round Bath. We've selected 60 people & we're going to send them a letter from a made up character & hopefully they will write back. There's going to be some sort of challenge for them to do & a prize of a fantastic box of letter writing stuff delivered thru the post. There'll also be an introduction to another young person as a penpal who has similar interests to them who they probably would have never met otherwise. They can write to each other whenever about whatever.

The character that writes comes from a weird & wonderful made-up penpalling organisation & the people who get a letter will be able to read more about it on a new website. You can watch films by the character & other people in that world. You can even make up a character and add it to that world on the website!

What do u think? Wierd? Fun? Creepy? What do u think wld work well for u?

06/08/2020, 09:15 - Josj Langdon: I think that would be a good idea, especially the pen pal thing

06/08/2020, 09:16 - Josj Langdon: But yh I think that it's a gr8 idea

06/08/2020, 22:52 - Olly: So you'd be more interested in exchanging letters with another participant than with our fictional characters? Do u think u wld enjoy making up a character for yourself? To write to yr pen pal or our characters? I'm thinking about how when u play computer games you sometimes create a persona for yourself. U can select a certain look or skill etc. Even develop a whole avatar. Well u cld do that with a sort of pen-name & made up character to write letters?

07/08/2020, 07:31 - Josj Langdon: Yeh actually that sounds great

08/08/2020, 00:40 - Olly: Do u play any games where u play as a character & if so how do u decide who to be? And do u always play as that same person?

08/08/2020, 00:45 - Olly: We're also thinking of putting a sound recorder in the letter-writing box. When it first arrives it might have music on it but u cld record over it. What wld u use it for - it just records about a minute. Wld u record yourself to send back to Kilters character or something to send on to yr pen pal?

Thanks Josh. This is really helpful. X

08/08/2020, 07:43 - Josj Langdon: Yeh I play a game on the ps4 called plants vs zombies garden warfare 2. There are i think 7 characters on each team. I like to switch around who I play as. I don't rly know if this is helpful tho because they would probs would only see the play once, but I play the game often

08/08/2020, 07:44 - Josj Langdon: Yeah I think that's a gr8 idea

12/08/2020, 21:07 - Olly: Hiya. Hope yr having a good hols. I wonder if yr having a digital detox or whether u can continue this conversation...

Another thing I'm thinking about with this letter exchange is Augmented Reality. I think it wld b quite cool if u cld point yr phone at yr letter & see something moving on the page. Not sure what. Any ideas?

My only worry is that people wouldn't know how to access it if they didn't have a good phone or help from someone. And it wld b quite expensive to make if not everybody used it & loved it. It'd need to add something - like the sound recorders are good for people who don't like reading & writing... Who or what would AR be good for?

13/08/2020, 09:10 - Josj Langdon: I'm think that seeing something move in the page would be awsome like a moving picture or something?? It is true they would probs need a good phone but most people have decent phones these days. I think that people would love it because it would be a rly cool way to interact. I think that AR would be aimed at people around my age like maybe 2 years younger and potentially 2 years older.

13/08/2020, 22:58 - Olly: I'm not sure what the moving thing cld be! I'll need to do some research! And I wonder whether the interest wld move away from the magic of the letter to the magic of the phone?! Maybe that doesn't matter.

Thinking about the age grps u suggest... How wld a 10 year old manage? They wouldn't have a phone, would they? So theyd need a parent or someone to really get involved... which is fine but not everyone has good phones or families who can help.

And even people yr age+... Dont u mostly have yr parents old phones? I wonder if older phones can do AR? Wld u b confident downloading an app & trying to make it work?

15/08/2020, 21:48 - Olly: Sorry, lot of questions in my last message. I'm getting close to sharing my first blog so wanted to squeeze a few more thoughts out of u. It's been so interesting so far to hear yr thoughts. X

16/08/2020, 19:42 - Josj Langdon: I think that most phones would be able to do it because all the phones that are too old will have slowed down and basically stopped working by now, so I assume that most people wld have a good enough phone, but there us a chance they don't idk but I think it would be cool if it was able to work

17/08/2020, 09:54 - Olly: Yep maybe yr right. What I like about the AR over the sound recorders is that it's using sth people already have. The sound recorders wld probably be cheap throw-away electronics from China... Which isn't great for the environment. And u don't want to be polluting the planet when yr trying to do sth for young people, right.