A conversation between Evan Yionoulis, director and co-writer of Redhand Guitar, and Hope Hutman, social story developer. Together they wrote the story for Redhand Legacy, a social narrative being workshopped in Williamstown this summer.
EY: So, Hope, we met at the Storyworld Conference in San Francisco. What brought you there?
HH: I was interested in transmedia storytelling, sharing a story across multiple platforms and, preferably, with audience participation. For a long time the only people making these kinds of stories were in advertising and marketing. I had worked with the major movie studios and television networks; we were telling stories to sell stuff or to show off cool technology.
There just aren’t a lot of actual storytellers imagining and sharing stories in this way yet. You were ahead of your time. When I saw you at Storyworld, I thought – wow, she doesn’t look like she’s in marketing!
EY: I was there because Mike and I –[Mike is Evan’s brother, a writer/composer]– were working on Redhand Guitar, a play with lots of music, about several generations of American musicians. We kept trying to get the story to fit in a couple of hours, but it just seemed to be expanding. And being new to transmedia, I didn’t really know how to begin.
HH: You had a lot of content. That’s what’s interesting, the story. Transmedia, multi-platform, immersive these are just ways to share the story.
EY: I think the breakthrough moment for me was when you talked about approaching Redhand Legacy as a particularly local experience. Because Redhand Guitar is so epic, moving across time from the Dust Bowl of 1938 through the 60s and the 90s to the present, and the internet is so global, the idea of working to really touch a particular community was, I think, a brilliant insight.
So we would be creating two stories: the journey of a character and the journey of the audience. And we needed to create a structure that would allow participants to create part of the story for each other, through their participation on the site and at events in the natural world.
HH: Right. How is the audience going to engage with this content in a meaningful way and, at the same time, how do we take what you and Mike are trying to say and make that the center of the experience? Not just, “Let’s do something because it’s cool,” but how does it fit in the larger context of what the play’s about?
EY: That’s why I’m excited to workshop Redhand Legacy in such a great theatre-making and theatre-going community. I really hope that a lot of people will participate.
HH: Because it’ll be interesting to get their insights, right? There’s no one right way to go through this… each person’s experience will be different. On some level, that’s true of all good stories… But with this you can jump in anytime… you can start in the middle if you want.
EY: Absolutely. But the theatre director in me wants people to sign up early [before August 4] so they can experience the evolution of the story over time.
HH: I think it will probably be exciting both ways….
If you want to join the Redhand Legacy community, connect here: http://bit.ly/1v9L0wf
The first act of Redhand Guitar will be read on August 13 at WTF.