Game Dramaturg Amy Strike talks about her work on interactive multimedia show ‘Manimals’

A distinctive part of early 21st century dating, dating apps have shaped how we interact, connect and meet up with prospective partners in the digital era. Tapping into this phenomenon in her debut show Manimals, game producer Michelle Hudson explores dating, loneliness and the struggle to connect within our digital age. Due to embark on a Canadian digital tour following the show’s UK showing, Manimals‘ game dramaturg Amy Strike tells us more about what drew her to take part in the show, key questions that were asked during the show’s development and what she’s taken away from the process.

You’re the game dramaturg for Manimals, an immersive, multimedia show focused on dating. What drew you to take part in the project?

I care about interactivity in art and theatre. Previously, I have made theatrical games that put agency in the hands of the audience, so that they became part of the story. I saw Manimals as a fascinating opportunity to engage audience members in the world of online dating, connection and loneliness in a deeper way.

A timely watch drawing on finding love in our technological age, how did you initially interpret the piece and what conversations were had with the show’s creator Michelle Hudson early on?

My initial thoughts about the piece were a strong sense of curiosity about how we could make the game elements sit within the story. Early conversations with Michelle focused on the larger idea of the game within the piece; what does it mean if audience members have to choose between playing and listening? How can the audience connect, both to Michelle and to one another through interaction?

What were the key questions asked about the piece and what did the research process involve?

The research process involved considering how people feel when they play a game; competitive, despairing, victorious, distracted, connected and how games ask different things of you; honesty, deception, distance, and how those feelings and behaviours sit within Manimals.

How were you able to work with Michelle to develop the piece?

We worked on the game design of the piece over an intensive three day period. We approached the process playfully, performing ideas, laying out the work visually and putting a spotlight on different elements of the piece, questioning and reshaping to draw forward the meanings within Manimals.

Have you learned anything new from taking part in the process?

Working with artists who are so full of ideas is an amazing thing. I’m always learning new things about taking a step back from a piece and seeing it from a different angle. The most exciting thing about working on Manimals has been seeing new ways that those interactions can create and uncover meaning, and be impactful.

What can participants expect from the show?

Manimals is heartfelt and hilarious. It’s interactive theatre turned upside down and covered in latex and tears and confetti. I think participants can expect to be moved, tickled and provoked into thought.

What would you like for participants to take away from the show?

I think some people will leave the show giggling, others will feel shaken, and some will still feel as if they are playing. But I would like to see people connecting about the show, and thinking about what connection means.

Questions by Lucy Basaba.

To read our interview with game producer Michelle Hudson, visit here…

To read our interview with digital agency Stitch Media, visit here…

For the Manimals review, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop