LONDON – In the midst of the current global pandemic, experimental Brazilian-UK theatre and digital arts company ZU-UK seek to remotely connect audiences to one another using everyday modern technology and play. Over 550 participants from 44 different companies in six continents took part in their WhatsApp experiment, Project Perfect Stranger; now, participants are invited to compete in a live gameshow with live VJ broadcast by international artists Nueve Voltios (Bogotá).
We are now entering the post-normal. We must ask ourselves: What can we learn from what we experienced collectively in 2020? What tools can help us to rediscover a sense of ourselves in the post-normal?
Project Perfect Stranger was a series of playful provocations and collaborative tasks with an anonymous partner over five days from a set of instructions sent via WhatsApp each morning. Partners connected for 15-20min each day. The project was an investment into a connection to another human being who knows nothing about you, and who has no judgements, no prior knowledge, no historical or emotional baggage with you, and vice-versa. The collaborative relationship was whatever the participants decided it should be. Their identities will only be revealed to each other if/when they meet each other for the first time on the 20th February.
The PlagueRound Game Show is the culmination of the five days of play between the Project Perfect Stranger participants and can be experienced either as a live participant on Zoom, or as a spectator via YouTube live stream. During the game show, Project Perfect Stranger participants reveal their identities to each other for the first time. A space of interactivity, participation and fresh ways of generating remote connection, the event utilizes game design to spark genuine human connection through the shared, global experience of the Covid-19 pandemic. PlagueRound is split into several thematic sections where contestants sometimes compete individually or in pairs, and others collaborate in small groups. Cracking open how collective experiences can link us, how we find a sense of ourselves in the post-normal and how we can define what the post-normal looks like. Only if you have participated in Project Perfect Stranger can you apply to be a live participant in the Game Show.
Persis Jadé Maravala, ZU-UK’s Artistic Director said: “There are paradigms and values from old normal that have no place in the world post-covid19. All the old orthodoxies and established ways of thinking are dying. We need to grow up and forget about a ‘new-normal’. The new normal implies an old normal – but the old normal was constantly mutating in such a way that it was unreliable, and the new normal will be equally illusory. Because normal was the problem in the first place.”
Formerly known as Zecora Ura and Para Active, ZU-UK is an established multi award-winning theatre & digital arts company ZU-UK is based in Newham and led by immigrant working-class artists Persis Jadé Maravala and Jorge Lopes Ramos. Persis is a disabled artist, ethnically Persian, originally from Yemen but raised in East London. Jorge was born by one of Rio de Janeiro’s largest favelas to a Polish-Romanian family. In a world where mainstream narratives normalize hate and fear, where contemporary loneliness is a new epidemic, we believe in the need for shared rituals, new narratives & experiences that empower those most vulnerable to experience and make excellent art. ZU-UK creates interactive experiences using games, performance and technology. They can happen anywhere including on your phone, in your house, on a stage, in a shopping mall or a field. Previous projects include VR experience Goodnight, Sleep Tight, the post-immersive dating experience Binaural Dinner Date, and #RioFoneHack at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. ZU-UK’s interactive audio experience Pick Me Up (& hold me tight) made all UK payphones ring simultaneously at 11am on January 1st, 2021.
PlagueRound Game Show runs from 2pm on 20th February 2021 on YouTube and Zoom. Join in the fun for free here