The Play

Text flyer JPG

Award-winning theatre company Rational Madness bring a new version of Text by Paul Levy based on real text conversations. What happens when a couple in relationship meltdown try to relight the fire via smartphone intimacy?

The play stars Jenny Rowe and Doug Devaney.

The book Digital Inferno was originally inspired by theatre piece “Text” by Paul Levy. Text premiered in Brighton in 2011 and went on to win the Cambridge Scholars Award. It was produced by Rational Madness Theatre.

Text played at the Brighton Fringe on May 11th and 12th 2015 at the Brighton Spiegeltent. Full details here.

Very enjoyable. A real insight into our daily interaction with technology- and ourselves.” – Nicholas Collett, actor and writer

“Jenny Rowe and Doug Devaney gave a beautifully poignant performance as the couple whose relationship was doomed – but I gave more of my attention to their text messages coming up on the screen behind them. Paul Levy couldn’t have given us a clearer demonstration of the perils of digital communications media.”Strat Mastoris, Reviewer for FringeReview

“A wake up call and a huge cautionary ringtone for mobile phone addicts!” Justin Hunt, Founder, Social Media Leadership Forum

See below for fuller reviews quotes and feedback

Get in touch if you are interested in bringing Text to your organisation or community.

About Text

Text explores the world of mobile phone texting, of intimacy and our loss of it and our gain of newer forms of it, of communication and miscommunication. It is a comedy of fingertips.

The piece incorporates film and simple animation, exploring the themes of movement and the spider-like nature of fingertip communication. What do we gain and lose by communicate in ways that do not require physical presence?

Text originally starred Jane Lesley and Ben Murray-Watson of Mokita-Grit when it premiered at the Brighton Fringe 2010. They are still on the team. Lee Bainbridge joined Text, fresh from his acclaimed role of Eddie in Horizon Arts’ Razing Eddie at the Edinburgh Fringe 2012. Kirsty Green also joined Text, fresh from her role as Chloe in Horizon Arts’ Razing Eddie at the Edinburgh Fringe 2012

text4.jpg Jane and Ben

 

Writer’s Notes

I’ve spent a couple of years researching “Text”. It has been one of those back-burner topics that I’ve reflected on deeply at times, and hardly given a thought to at others. I’ve texted a lot – far more than anything I’d venture to estimate. I have received a lot of texts too. Tens of thousands. And I have talked to people about texting – a lot of people. I’ve also watched texting as a process – in cafes, on trains, in cars, at funerals.

“Text” is not an anti-texting play, though the research material at the heart of it seems to uncover more evidence of what we lose than what we gain by it, at a relationship level. But it is a first look and it focuses on two people heading towards their forties. The picture is, I suspect, somewhat different for those with generation Y in the or blood to the core. Generation Y is the social media generation, and those at its vanguard can talk without even taking the phone out of their pockets. For the two in this play, texting is a kind of addictive tool, for some in Generation Y it is a prosthesis, bordering on something of the cyborg.

Yet I also wonder, regardless of generation, if there aren’t some universal issues at the heart of what Text explores. The loss of connection when text and emoticons become the new intimacy. Eloquence seems to become equated with cleverness, and romance is available at the will of an instant thought-into-fingertips rather than full bodied commitment. Is there a qualitative difference at a romantic level between ‘you’ and ‘u’?

In Text, a loss of intimacy is not caused by an increasing reliance on virtual communication, but that technology and capability does magnify it. Even at its most eloquent I wonder if it equates to two lovers who communicate more and more by ever more astounding and compelling love poetry, drenched in sensuality and allure, and then, on physically meeting, find that their physical sensuality falls short of their word stupor. Or perhaps two lovers who send a hundred love letters a day, but all broken into a few words.

Text is a comedy with a tragedy at its heart. Is the outcome inevitable? Were the two players merely pawns in a greater conspiracy or were there moments when they could have made a bid together for freedom and rescued themselves?

text2 Lee and Kirsty

One of the difficulties of texting is no different to pen friendship of old – without physical body language and gesture, there is the possibility of false assumption and misunderstanding. In the written form of a letter, pen friends would “emote” verbally – “I am smiling now” and perhaps even draw a smiley (rare I think). Emoticons simplify and do not seem to reduce the potential for emotional misunderstanding and, if anything, increase it. People now LOL (laugh out loud), when they are not laughing, and a smiley usually indicates an intellectual smile that somehow hasn’t quite the strength to become a physical one. Some might say that Generation Y is developing a new and equally rich emotional landscape, connecting emotion with thought, fired with supersonic speed to the fingertips without need for a more traditional heart-based sensation. It might be called “Think-feel”. So, not physically smiling doesn’t mean we aren’t smiling in another, newer way. Text-kissing may not be physical, but it is a different kind of kiss nonetheless, one we feel in our think-feel landscape. I do find it interesting that there seems to be a need for many many more think-feel kisses than physical ones, though this isn’t exclusive to texting. Many a guilty son or daughter who hasn’t seen a parent for months, showers his or her birthday or anniversary card with a vast quantity of penned kisses they never intend to make good at a physical meeting.

So, Text is a story of just two people and any more generic messages an audience may glean from it are, at best, tentative. This, I believe, is a relatively recently developed landscape to explore. We spend hours per week texting, so theatre that seeks to portray the human condition has a duty to describe it, portray it, critique and even celebrate it. This particular attempt describes a twosome whose relationship falls into disrepair and virtual “fingertip” connection, not only is unable to redeem it, but actually hastens its decline. Did it cause it? That’s for you to decide. As the writer, my own inner jury is out on the matter.

Paul Levy, Brighton, UK, 2015

 

 

Reviews and feedback

Very enjoyable. A real insight into our daily interaction with technology- and ourselves.” – Nicholas Collett, actor and writer

“Well done a beautifully paced thought provoking piece – a lovely balance of humour and sensitivity.” – musician Matt Hodgson

“Hi Paul Quick text re ‘Text’! Well done to you and the cast. Really enjoyed it!” film actor/director Fiona Bruce

“It was funny and thought provoking.” – audience member

“Dead good” – audience member

“An excellent play. Incredibly thought provoking.” – audience member

“Beautifully acted” – audience member

“So worth it on a misty Monday night in May. Thank you!”

‘Text’ is amazing with fantastic performances from Jen Rowe & Doug Devaney….Really struck a chord” – audience member

“woke up this morning more digitally self-conscious thanks to Text” – audience member

“At first I thought Text was too slow, but then I realised that Text is perfectly paced – Text showed me that I’ve become too fast and impatient.” – audience member

“The play holds up a mirror to the audience”, “I loved the comedy – it was very a moving play too”, “Very truly observed” – audience member

“really enjoyed it, so well acted and got us talking”, audience member

“So believable”, audience member

“Why is it always the MAN? It made me want to heckle. I nearly did.”, audience member

“poignant.. Text shows what is happening right now”, audience member

“an uncomfortable mirror”, audience member

“really liked the juxtaposition of film and live action”, audience member

“A great show.. Poignant… Very true to life … And really makes you think” Cliff, audience member

“A wake up call and a huge cautionary ringtone for mobile phone addicts!” Justin Hunt, Founder, Social Media Leadership Forum

“Text shone a sobering mirror on my own reality. It was an extremely clever and welcome reminder in personally controlling digital distractions and not allowing them to eat into the relationships with those you love. I think everyone could benefit from seeing this production.” Chevy Kelly, Social Media Sales Director

“Dear Paul, My wife and I saw your play Text last night. Very thought provoking. It has been the catalyst for some good family discussions about over dependence on phones and iPads!” Audience member

“Text is not so much a mirror to a current generation distracted by technology as a loud cerebral voice shouting in your ear and pointing at you “

Gavin Robertson, award-winning actor and director

“Text’ vividly showed us the paradox that – the more we are continually and seamlessly connected to a network of friends, the less able we are to connect with the person standing in front of us.” Audience member

“Jenny Rowe and Doug Devaney gave a beautifully poignant performance as the couple whose relationship was doomed – but I gave more of my attention to their text messages coming up on the screen behind them. Paul Levy couldn’t have given us a clearer demonstration of the perils of digital communications media.”Strat Mastoris, Reviewer for FringeReview

“I really enjoyed watching Text – great cast and always interesting to watch and listen to.” Colin Granger, director at Komedia Brighton, theatre maker and author

“Saw Paul Levy’s play TEXT last night at the Brighton Spiegeltent. Witty & touching. A relationship meltdown via online words and silence” – Josie Melia – co-writer of The Bombing of the Grand Hotel

“Definitely got me thinking about how I allow technology to affect my relationships with things I love more; like people.” Luke Flegg, Change the Future

“I enjoyed the play Text, and since watching it I have been thinking about the impact of phones on all my relationships. Thanks Paul, Well done!” Jasmin, Kindergarden teacher

“It is still sinking in, two days later”, Anne, audience member

“Current and necessary. Go watch” James Weisz, Director, Emporium Theatre

“A really interesting play… relevant to how we live now”, Sarah Saeed, theatre maker

“A pleasure seeing it. ‘Text’ is an interesting and thought-provoking piece which looks at the intrusiveness of technology on daily lives and specifically about how it can negatively impact human interaction. Inevitably relationships may suffer..” Roger Kay, producer, director at Rialto Theatre

“The film and the acting together produced a highly enjoyable play, one I would see again”, Peter Williams, photographer

“The play offered a deep introspective into the modern dilemma of digital relationships” – Andy White, photographer and digital media developer

“Very much enjoyed Text…The theme has very much stayed with my thoughts this week – they way we mediate what we say and shy away from direct contact. Even in close relationships. Powerful stuff!” Matt Thompson, Producer

“A very touching warning about digital communication endangering and jeopardising a couple’s intimacy. We feel we’re smarter than machines but it’s good to be reminded how they can take over our day to day lives.” Marion Deprez, theatre maker and performer

“A clever and thought provoking play in which there were many scenarios that I could relate to. I have since had a wake up call to reduce my own digital inferno.” Naomi Turner, Event Manager

“Funny, poignant. A brilliant representation of a contemporary couple as they negotiate their relationship within the malestrom of social media.” Sandy Holder, NHS

“I liked ‘Text’ because it shows how devices can hinder and mislead. Reminds us that we need face to face to properly understand + be understood. “ Silvia, parent

text4-000.jpg text6.jpg text2.jpg

text5a

 

%d bloggers like this: