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SD Fringe Artist Highlight: Iceland’s Huldufugl

Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego International Fringe Festival is in full swing and KPBS arts reporter and Beth Armando has been something the diverse array of shows available at the festivals. New homebase of Balboa Park, one show a box in the desert, comes from Iceland and involves virtual reality best speaks with two of the artists, none of Gunnar's and asked her Agusta son, Speaker 2: 00:22 Nana, you are here in San Diego, but you also run the Reykjavik fringe festivals. So talk a little bit about what defines fringe, what makes something a fringe festival. I've gotten to know a lot about them and the past year that I've started running the Reykjavik French and there's more than 200 fringe festivals around the world and they all operate in a different way from one to another, but mostly they're open, uh, arts festivals. So they're open for any type of art. It's not limited to, theater is not limited to dance, it's not limited to comedy, it's, it's everything and it's, it's a really good breeding ground for experimental arts of any kind. So people that are testing out new material or new new people that are trying to break into the art scene. Uh, so it's a really exciting playground of, of art, of all kinds. Really Aster. Explain what this show a box in the desert is about. What can people expect from this? Speaker 3: 01:27 The underlying theme of a box in the desert is, well, there's a few of them. This trust, um, freedom of freedom of choice. Whether there is such a thing to begin with, your challenges, you to question authority as well. Also the what it has going for it as well as this, this novelty of it happening in virtual reality. So one person at a time can, can only enter it and they find themselves stuck within a box in the desert. Speaker 4: 01:55 Oh, hi. Hello. Who are you waiting long. We just wanted to give you some time to get a tested. So how do you like your new home? Inside the box? You're completely protected. Everything is taken care of and no harm ever come to you. Speaker 3: 02:19 Then there are conflicting, uh, entities which tried to persuade them to either escape the boxes or you know, find comfort within it and then the, then it's their choice whether they, which, which entity they they listened to. Speaker 2: 02:35 So what is it like performing a show that is virtual reality in a fringe festival because you're not getting that same kind of audience feedback in the sense of you have this large group of people applauding or reacting. So what does this kind of experience like for an artist? Speaker 3: 02:52 It can be tr, uh, trying to kind of have the headset on and to be within this roadshow reality world. I personally take every chance I get to kind of step out of it because the audience, uh, sometimes it is transported to a totally different world within the world. So they don't see us Kinda stepping out of the, the character per se. Also the character is someone that when when they, when they communicate directly to the audience member, usually at the end of the end of the experience, the audience member is, is quite happy to be rid of that character. But a, there's usually like plotters afterwards. Yeah. And that's what I was going to say. Like one of us is usually around to kind of receive them and then get feedback from the event. And that that's usually where we kinda get to the, the payoff that all performers strive for. Speaker 2: 03:45 So this is being performed for one person at a time. It's a 20 minute show you're already sold out. So where did this idea come from to put something like this together? Because it's unique. So I wrote a 200 play for a stage a few years ago and I'll start here, performed in it. But my, uh, partner, boyfriend, boyfriend grime and life and crime, he works with virtual reality as a day job on is very good at it. And he was just like, well, I kind of want to take that show on and put it in virtual reality. So I just thought, yeah, yeah, you do that honey. That's great. So He created the whole world within it with the whole digital world. And then I got in touch with Asta who I knew from before Speaker 3: 04:34 we, we met, we met working at a, at a hamburger joint in London. So, Speaker 2: 04:41 uh, so I asked him if you want it to be a part of, of turning that play into a virtual reality show. We kind of had no idea how that was going to go to start with, but we got a tiny bit of grant from [inaudible] in a bank in Iceland to a pet it up for culture night and Reykjavik couple of years ago. And yeah, I had like a 12 hour run and a day where we alternated performing. And that was interesting. And then after that applied to be a part of the Reykjavik fringe, but that was supposed to take place for the first time that year. That ended up getting canceled. And then I decided, well why don't I just run the French? So we performed again and since then we've been kind of, it's been really well received wherever we, it's kind of overwhelming. Speaker 2: 05:30 We didn't really expect any of this as who's just supposed to be a small thing. Well, first on a stage and then just for one, one day culture festival. But now we're being, we have toward the Tu Berlin move toward the, to Stockholm, London, Brighton. Now we're here in San Diego. We were in La last week and we're taking it back to Reykjavik French, uh, at the end of this month. And then we have some offers to go to other places. So this is a kind of thing that sounds like each person is going to have a very different experience and the same person going through twice could have a very different experience. Yeah, definitely. Speaker 3: 06:07 Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. And that's, that's the beauty of it. And there's a beauty of, of immersive and interactive theater, not just for the, for the audience, but for the performance as well. Especially especially with, yeah. Well then you, you're always on your toes and you know, never know what this audience member or, or these audience members are going to do. And it's really fun, you know? Uh, yeah, it keeps, it keeps it fresh. Speaker 2: 06:34 I mean, as the performer, it's kind of like a personality test for like, you know, some people, some people come and really happy, some people are maybe angry or sad or you know, and, and they kind of bring that into the experience with them. And uh, I mean because they are getting this juxtaposition juxtaposition of like, you know, do this or to the other thing and then they don't know who to trust and they kind of, it's really interesting to see where they take it and then the audience can actually influence the story quite a bit. We have several endings, um, and quite fun. Like, because it's a, it's so new that it's not really genre defined. You know, we, we think of it as theater in virtual reality, but we took her to a games festival and I've got an award actually has the best game. So we're like, oh well I suppose for a game and midspan compared to a escape rooms as well. So it's sort of, it's sort of like crossing the boundaries between playing games or playing theater is, is, is linked as well. So there's a really interesting take on like what kind of audience we're drawing towards US Navy week, getting people that are interested in computer games, but we're also getting people that are interested in new media and, and uh, and people that are interested in how theater is developing. So that's, that's a really Speaker 1: 07:53 fun thing too. That was Beth Edmondo speaking with acto Nana Gunnar's and asked her [inaudible] about their San Diego friends show a box in the desert, which has sold out all performances, but you can check out Beth's videos highlighting other shows running at the fringe through Sunday.

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The seventh annual San Diego International Fringe Festival is in full swing with a diverse array of shows available at the festival's new home base of Balboa Park. One unique show, "A Box in the Desert," comes from Iceland and involves virtual reality.
KPBS Midday Edition Segments