The notion of a journey in January of 2022 seems fraught with conflicting emotions. There is a bittersweet nostalgia for easy and safe travel, tempered, perhaps by the reality of our individual and communal paths through 2021. There is the desire to escape, as well as the desire to move forward. And underneath it is all is the need to travel out of our pandemic isolation and towards friends, family, and neighbors.The Journey, a virtual experience created by Scottish illusionist-mentalist-performance artist Scott Silven, presented through Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in early February, is uniquely equipped to remind us of the power of mystery, wonder, and, most of all, connection.
If you're been suffering from Zoom fatigue (yes it is a real thing), fear not. The Journey is not your standard COVID-friendly virtual fare (and yes, we've been at this long enough for that to be a thing too). Billed as "from Scott Silven's home to yours," The Journey, like it's multihypenate creator and star, defies easy categorization. However, after a bit of backround research and several viewings of the YouTube preview, I can say this: The Journey is not your mother's mash-up. As vast as it is intimate (only 30 participants are allowed "in" at a time), this part-meditation video, part-mystery of mentalism, part performance art presentation is not for casual viewing. As it requires a deep level of attention and focus, your experience of The Journey depends in part on you. Now, reader, if you will permit me, I shall swap my arts critic cap for that of a friendly travel guide. The following considerations range from tech specs to mind-set, and are intended to set you up for maximum enjoyment once you "embark."
Okay, I know it's called The Journey, but are we actually going anywhere?
Krannert Center has said that the experience "traverses mythical childhood stories and dramatic Highland landscapes that reveal the mysteries of the mind and unlock the secrets of Silven’s homeland through extraordinary illusions, unexpected personal reflections, and unbelievable feats of imagination." So to answer that literally, while you will remain at your computer, you will be armchair touring the Scottish Highlands.
For a more metaphorical response, I'll turn it over to NPR, which recently recounted Silven's gratitude for this opportunity to “take a moment to step back and reflect and realize that even in fragmented times, we can still find new forms of connection.”
Photo from Krannert Center for the Performing Arts website
This will be a highly immersive remote experience. What does that mean exactly?
On their website, Krannert Center explains that because "the high-definition visual and immersive stereo soundscape are essential to experiencing The Journey, the artist recommends a single viewer with headphones on each screen." So while your household can watch together, "only one person may interact with Scott during the performance and that participant may not change partway through the performance."
This will be an interactive experience. What does that mean exactly?
A maximum of 30 partcipants are allowed per performance in order to enable interaction with Silven. And "interactive" also means that you will remain on camera for the entirety of the one-hour experience. So, get your room Room Rater-ready, put on your best "going out" outfit and take a last look-see in the mirror before logging on. And make sure you are lit to be seen.
Scott Silven is a mentalist and therefore, an intuitive performer. What does this mean for audience members?
KCPA reminds participants that "mentalism requires that Scott be able to see and hear you clearly. No mood lighting; please turn on your lights! " They also suggest doing your homework. This means completing the exclusive pre-show activities and keeping the following near you during the performance (your object of meaning, two sheets of paper, and a thick marker nearby for the performance).
Tech needs and other ways to get the most out of your experience
Unlike other virtual performances, KCPA notes that The Journey "will be streamed through a custom web interface that runs in your internet browser." That means no downloads. You will get an email with the link to the virtual theatre the day before the event. Shortly before your event time the host will wait check you in from the "virtual lobby."
Desktops, laptops, and iPads with 10-inch+ screens are the way to go. Don't try this on a mobile phone. You device of choice will need both a webcam and microphone. Stereo headphones are suggsested.
The following browsers will be supported: the most updated versions of Safari, Chrome, Microsoft Edge, or Firefox. Internet Explorer, not so much.
To Screencast to TV or not TV?
Screencasting the performance to a TV is not recommended because of possible feedback problems from speakers.
So register, do your homework, log in early in case of tech problems, and keep and open mind. Yes, you will be at a device, but just say no to multitasking. Focus, breathe, and enjoy The Journey.
Scott Silven's The Journey was created with the generous support of The Momentary, The Broad Stage, Hong Kong Arts Festival, Virginia Arts Festival, Arizona Arts Live, Traverse Theatre, Purdue Convocations, UtahPresents, and Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.
Watch a preview of Scott Silven's The Journey on YouTube
Scott Silven's The Journey
Hosted by Krannert Center for the Perfoming Arts
Tuesday through Saturday, February 2nd through 6th at 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Sunday, February 7th at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Tickets: $25 / SC $20 / Students $10
Available for purchase online