Fortnight is two-week long exploration of what it means to ‘be here, now’. Participants sign up to receive communications and attend secret events around their city, experiencing magical moments that are created for and by them.
Created by Gillian Lees and Peter Petralia with Jack Dale and Katie Riley.
In collaboration with Adam York Gregory and www.matter2media.com
With creative contributions from Rachel Baynton and Andrew Westerside
Fortnight is a two-week long, fully immersive, experience based in the interactions and communications of daily life. Up to 200 participants sign up to receive messages that are sent to their mobile phones, email, and home address; these messages contain a series of poetic nudges that encourage those participating to question their sense of place. Participants also receive daily invitations to visit locations throughout their city where they can pause to reflect on what it means to be here now.
Fortnight enables the experience of “theatre” to penetrate beneath a seemingly brittle aesthetic surface of performance, deep into the consciousnesses of our participants as they begin to interact with and perceive world around us as the performance itself; the place where we act out our own daily lives. In Fortnight, the spectator becomes participant; the journey becomes narrative.
Fortnight therefore subverts the notion of an audience, in which each spectator’s perspective is forced to examine not the situation and setting of performers on a stage, but rather the situation and setting of our own sense of place and the meaning we apportion to our everyday lives.
Fortnight uses various forms of ubiquitous technology such as: Radio Frequency Identification (aka, RFID tags of the type contained in key fobs), which are used in badges sent to each participant that allow them to interact with real-world “portals” to trigger certain effects in their surroundings; QR technology (in the form of barcodes on posters that reveal additional hidden messages, should the participant choose to delve further; SMS messages; email; and, Twitter. Alongside this, older modes of communication such as handwritten letters, give Fortnight a decidedly low-fi aesthetic. Throughout Fortnight, participants are encouraged to explore the creative possibilities of pervasive and communicative media without reverting to mere technological fetishism. In Fortnight, each mode of communication is used not only for its functionality but also as symbols that bind the project and the participant together, rooting them to the here and now with the everyday tools of modern society.
The mediated messages within Fortnight lead participants down a living, breathing rabbit hole where the familiar becomes unfamiliar and reality distorts. The project becomes an experience for the participant that is as immersive as their own life; creating an alternative reality, that not only co-exists alongside their own everyday realities, but also merges with them.This is a performance with shared responsibilities, reflecting the actions and consequences of our daily lives: what we put in, we get out.
Fortnight is a Nuffield New Works Commission from Nuffield Theatre Lancaster. Commissioned by Mayfest and Watershed. Fortnight was a 2010 Theatre Sandbox Commission in partnership with the Bristol Old Vic and has been co-commissioned by Contact Theatre. Fortnight has received support from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
Participants from Bristol 2011, Lancaster 2011 and Manchester 2012 had the following feedback:
It’s been an amazing 2 weeks, I am so glad I signed up to Fortnight. It did feel odd today not to have a mission to complete, it’s funny how quickly you get used to something.
Fortnight has been utterly magical. I’ve loved the tasks (although some have made me cry) and the texts and emails have been a little touch of beauty in a world which can seem a bit much sometimes. I can’t think of anything I didn’t like.
I loved slowing down, looking at things through duck-y eyes, the encouragement to ponder on things which I would normally never think about. Really felt like a new part of my brain and my senses were coming to life!
Thanks fortnight. You made a real and positive difference to my life.
I’ve loved every minute of it! I especially loved the start.
On an individual level it’s been like therapy. Nothing less than transformative.
You really hit upon something, F. You managed to tap into the childish vein that all of us still possess, some better hidden than others, and show us how to really look at life.
When explaining Fortnight to people, I compared it to early reality TV shows when they were ostensibly about an ‘experience’ rather than drunk people arguing- in the sense that while the participants know there’s a group of people pulling the strings, they weren’t directly interacting with them full-time, and much of the fun came from their interpretation of the situation, the process in which they came through it, and the surprises which followed.
In a very hectic life fortnight provided a reassuring confidant and virtual guide. Thank you for the moments of reflection, pause, and wonder.