After months of prep and meetings, we did our presentations on our performances in ATHEMOO from back in the 1990s. You can watch the presentations here.
For me the most gratifying part was not doing my presentation for an online audience, or even having it saved for posterity. Nor was it being recognized for work from decades ago. Well, not exactly.
See, I put together numerous panels for the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) back in the day. I served as a member of the Electronic Technology Committee (in a time when theatre academics mostly rejected the idea of using technology in teaching or performance; “What would we need to do that for? Theatre happens between an actor and an audience member in the same space!” Never mind that it doesn’t have to be the same physical space; but let’s move on…), and so many of my panels got fast-tracked that way. So I chaired a number of panels, including a poster session (and years later, someone said, “Why don’t we do poster sessions like they do in science?” and all I could do was shake my head and say, “We did…”). I also introduced some young scholars to presenting, and they would later go on to be recognized as major players in the field of digital performance.
In the meantime, I plugged away at teaching and directing, sometimes using technology in performance, more often not. And I felt left behind a bit. Those I helped into the limelight were working at large institutions and getting major grants to do experimental work. How cool for them. Not openly, but I felt I was languishing professionally.
And then our presentation started. After introductions by Esther Slevogt and Martina Leeker, Julia Glesner came on screen. And after a moment of introduction (about 10 minutes into the proceedings), she held up a copy of Theatre in Cyberspace, which I had edited back in 1999. She said, “I still remember very vividly how I first had Stephen Schrum’s book, Theatre in Cyberspace, in my hands. This seminal book helped me a lot during my research. It was a really exciting moment.”
And this was an exciting moment for me too. I suddenly realized what an impact I had had on people. With that book, and the listserv COLLAB-L I had created—I had wanted to invent a virtual warehouse space in which artists could meet and collaborate. And that day I heard in others’ presentations how they had found the collaborators they later worked with through COLLAB-L.
So it felt good. But it also inspired me to write a memoir, a sort of “My Life With Computers” (with homage to Stanislavsky’s My Life in Art). It will be about my memories of computing (like my podcast, Audio Chimera is about memory) but also take a look at the evolution of computing. I don’t expect it will get too historical or technical, but it will be a more personal look. So: a new project!