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Hamlet on SL Production Blog » Blog Archive

Fourteen Pillars Fundraising Campaign by ina

Shakespeare, Second Life: In June 2008, the SL Shakespeare Company (SLSC) announced the “Fourteen Pillars Fundraising Campaign” to help raise capital for its highly anticipated full-length full-ensemble production of Hamlet and other Shakespearean works. The goal is to raise L$14 million to fill up all 14 currently-empty pillars of the Campaign.

In a backstage private presentation given to VIP and members of the 1300+ member SL Shakespeare Company group on Second Life, executive producer and artistic director Ina Centaur gave a brief recounting of the various Globe Theatres she had built on Second Life and other virtual realities, and also the Second Life land problems the Company had to face, which ultimately forced her to invest in purchasing four island simulators for the Theatre. She then explained the Company’s goals and revealed its financial status, “We’re not funded by any external agency other than our own passion for the endeavor—and that’s really also internal… And it is so rare to see that in a humanities project, but we have it! We’ve already done what other projects with hundreds of thousands of real US dollars could not do. But, to maintain it for any longer, we will need your help…”

The problem arose in April from the Company’s all-too-sensational, but all-too-sudden miniproduction of Hamlet: The Mousetrap, which featured a cast of a baker’s dozen live actors and introduced the faces of the play’s main characters, including Hamlet, Ophelia, Claudius, Polonius and Gertrude. Centaur explained the miniproduction’s major problem, “We tried our best to work the schedule based on the actor’s availabilities; but having Second Life as a second or third or fourth or lower priority simply won’t do for a full-ensemble full-length production.” Managing director Sabina Stenvaag stated, “Scheduling was chaos, and we’ve even had to deal with some last minute re-casting before a show opened.” Co-executive producer and director Enniv Zarf agreed that, “The only way a full-length full-everything production would work is if we had everyone taking Second Life seriously, take their roles as a full time first life job for a month.”

“We are going to continue no matter what. We do want to explore all the different possibilities in theatre productions. Doing staged readings is an integral part of any production company who are experimental and innovative. Although Shakespeare isn’t necessarily new, but producing Shakespeare in Second Life proposes many problems to overcome and this Twelfth Night Staged Reading Series has taught us many things about the nature of live theatre in SL. It is absolutely a necessary and welcomed part of the process, and also a great way to keep going for the summer until we get back into the full swing of things in the fall,” said Enniv Zarf.

Ina Centaur explained, “Outside institutes and funding agencies do not seem to understand what we’re doing, and that perhaps explains for their reluctance in funding. We’re new and we’ve got a sprakling new idea. For the past eleven months, I have been spending a huge chunk of my time in both finding and fostering the SLSC. The theatre prides itself in its professional productions and large-scale venue—but those come at a cost. Practically everything I have done on Second Life is in attempt to break even and make the theatre self-sufficient within Second Life.”

The Campaign’s characteristic donation kiosk is a self-updating posterboard, which visually represents the fourteen empty pillars as printed woodcuts on aged parchment. As the funds accumulate, the pillars will appear “filled.” Currently, two kiosks are placed in the SL Globe Theatre. They will soon be dispersed on the walls of upcoming builds in the Shakespeare island simulator as “Elizabethan graffiti”.

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