We are very excited to invite you to a work in progress showing by Boho Interactive, on Saturday 27th October at 12:00pm, at the CSIRO Discovery Centre Theatre in Acton.

Following several months of intensive research and script development, including visiting the Australian Animal Health Laboratories in Geelong, we are presenting a development showing of our project based on concepts from epidemiology, microbiology and antibiotic development.

Conceptually Transmissible Aphasia: Current understandings of pathogenesis and modern methods of control is a performance in the style of a scientific lecture with videoconferencing, that looks at the emergence of a novel disease agent. At this showing we will present a small suite of ideas that we are hoping to get your input on. This showing is the culmination of research and development work that has been undertaken with the support of an ACT Arts Fund Project grant for 2012, CSIRO and Centenary of Canberra.

Following the showing there will be a Q&A session, where we would very much appreciate your feedback to assist in the ongoing development of the work. Refreshments will be provided and we will be happy to have a chat with you in person at the end of the Q&A.

In coming months, we will be heading back into script development to prepare for the presentation of the work in its full iteration as part of the Centenary of Canberra program in May 2013, once again generously supported by the ACT Government and CSIRO.  You can see our program listing here. RSVPs are appreciated, to info@bohointeractive.com or through the Facebook event. We hope you are able to attend and help us shape the future of this work.About the project

As a result of widespread use of antibiotics below effective levels, every type of harmful bacteria has become stronger and less responsive to treatment. Antibiotics that were once reserved as drugs of last resort are now being routinely used, and bacteria are now showing resistance to these medicines. Meanwhile, dormant animal reservoirs of novel diseases such as Hendra, SARS and Ebola are increasingly brought into contact with people through evolving networks of human behaviour – agriculture, travel and urbanisation.

We use systems of antibiotic resistance and pathogen emergence as a jumping off point to apply to other resistances – our inherent ability to resist external social and cultural influences. We consider the potential ramifications of epidemic failure of critical thinking and an unstoppable spread of harmful ideas and broken logic. For instance, were a disease to emerge that was transmitted person-to-person via text messaging, email, telephone or video, what steps of biocontainment could be taken to identify the pathogen, halt its spread and develop a cure?

The format of the showing draws on conventions of scientific lecture. This repurposing of an existing presentation style for narrative theatre offers the potential for a hyper-real experience wherein a seemingly mundane and credible presentation is contrasted with a surreal and highly speculative scenario.

The showing employs elements of theatre, film and video gaming. The performance will be viewed by audiences in the CSIRO Discovery Centre lecture theatre, with one character in the theatre and one in a second venue, elsewhere within the CSIRO Black Mountain facility. For part of the showing, this second performer is visible on a large screen in the theatre via high bandwidth videoconference. The audience interact in real time with the other stage using mediated communications channels. The audience as individuals and as a group solves a series of puzzles within the narrative to resolve an immediate crisis.

With the advent of accessible, high quality live video transfer, new methods of performance interaction have become possible. Given the pace of the National Broadband Network rollout, these techniques are likely to be ubiquitous within the next three years. The use of lecture theatre spaces opens up a vast new resource of readily available, high capacity, low cost venues which are otherwise underutilised for creative works.

Videoconference is essentially scale-free, offering the potential to tour nationally or internationally with minimal cost, with the performance set, cast and crew remaining in place in Canberra and performers travelling with nominal technical equipment to venues with appropriate broadband capacity. Future implications of this or similar work include the presentation of the work to multiple theatres simultaneously, vastly increasing our potential reach, and it would be a trivial step to simulcast performances to desktop computers anywhere in the world.

The development of this showing is supported by the ACT Government through the ACT Arts Fund 2012 project funding. The upcoming major performance season in 2013 is supported by the ACT Government through the ACT Arts Fund 2012 project funding.
This is a Centenary of Canberra project, proudly supported by the ACT Government.


The CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratories (AAHL) is a world-class biological research, diagnosis, surveillance and response institution situated on the outskirts of Geelong, Victoria. As part of our research into themes of epidemiology and disease as part of our upcoming 2013 production at the CSIRO Discovery Centre, we visited AAHL and met with some of their most experienced staff over two days. AAHL works on a broad palette of animal health issues, ranging from those with potentially catastrophic economic impact, such as possible foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks in livestock, to issues whose impact predominantly concerns human health, including their high-profile discovery of and research into the Hendra virus. In the case of an outbreak, AAHL has the capacity to screen ten thousand samples per day, and offers laboratory space that operates at the highest level of biosecurity possible in order to work with pathogens of appalling lethality.

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‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ is the name we use when referring to the style of performance whereby, as in the legendary book series of that title, the audience is able to navigate through a story by making a series of consecutive decisions that determine which of a pre-determined set of endings takes place. This works through a series of storyline nodes, operating like non-interactive cutscenes, with two or more options branching from each one – the graph below from FlowingData shows a typical structure.

CYOA techniques in theatre work much the same way – actors perform segments of non-interactive script, interspersed with opportunities for the audience to select one from a number of clearly delineated options. Continue reading »

Here’s a bit from us about the TEDxCanberra talk. Questions by David (currently overseas), to Jack and Michael.

First of all, here’s the video of the talk:

The full production script from the talk can be downloaded here.

David: How did this talk come about?

Jack: We had an email by Stephen Collins, the TEDxCanberra organiser, who very kindly offered us a spot on the bill. Not sure who nominated us but very grateful to whoever it was.

Michael: We’d also like to thank Dr David Newth and Dr John Finnigan from the CSIRO Centre for Marine and Atmospheric Research for their help in getting us focused in the early stages of scripting.

D: What was the approach to producing this work?

J: The first thing we looked at was areas where TED talks and our usual work met. We had to be careful to ensure that what we were doing was a performance rather than a talk, and that the focus was on interpretation rather than explanation. None of the research itself is ours – and most of it had to be ludicrously simplified to keep each section down to a minute – so the task was to identify a good progression of simple ideas which led to the conclusion – that ignoring complex systems will basically kill us all. Then we set to thinking about ways we could get creative in communicating those ideas.

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The next in our series of posts exploring different interactive performance styles is the Adventure Game. The name and form is derived from the genre of video games (which peaked in popularity in the late 80s to mid-90s), in which the player takes on the role of a protagonist working their way through an interactive storyline through exploration and puzzle-solving.

Sam n Max Hit the Road

Sam & Max Hit the Road. Does it involve wanton destruction? We can only hope. 

The Adventure Game is a format that is pretty prevalent in our work, since it allows a non-linear exploration of what is fundamentally a linear text. The Adventure Games mindset is really useful when the main concern is for the storyline, rather than having the focus on the variety of options and customisability available to an audience. Continue reading »

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