Joan of the City
Interactive Opera Meets AR

A site-specific mixed reality opera and a standalone AR app. Joan is a modern-day Joan of Arc. The spirits of the city call out to her to save it from the occupying forces of greed and corruption. The audience joins her army.

Joan of the City is a site-specific multi-media opera that will use augmented reality/mixed reality to tell the story of a modern-day Joan of Arc. 

A site-specific mixed reality opera for 5 voices, 4 instrumentalists and software app. A standalone personal AR app for mobile devices, available for download, playable anywhere.

The journey unfolds on the streets of an actual city. The audience becomes part of Joan’s army and joins her on her quest. Our Joan is a young woman who has ended up on the street due to her all-consuming visions. Now, the spirits of the city call out to her to save it from the occupying forces of greed and corruption. For the live performance, there will be five real-world performers as Joan. Audience members will begin in smaller groups, each following their own Joan. Initially, the AR app will provide all other content, including the musical accompaniment for the live singer. As the audience follows their Joan, each singer will use signal markers to trigger the different audiovisual components of her visions.To passers by, Joan may appear to be singing to herself, but our audience will see and hear her entire world. These audiovisual “hallucinations” will take Joan and the audience on her journey. As performers and audience move from one location to the next, the real world and the vision world will blend together as real-life actors playing the characters in Joan’s visions enter the real-world performance. As they move from one location to the next, the real world and the vision world will blend together as the five Joans intersect with each other and with the members of a string quartet. The culmination of the piece will reveal the entire cast, chorus, and orchestra in real-time, allowing a seamless transition from the AR/MR environment into the real world.

FORMING THE LIBRETTO AND SCORE:
To best serve the communities we are centering in this project, and to do justice to their stories, we are generating the libretto for the piece through collaborations with community organizations that serve homeless populations, beginning with Mary’s Place- a service organization for homeless women in Seattle, WA. We are collaborating with Julie Gardner, a writer and educator trained in the Amherst Writers and Artists Method. Julie is scheduled to lead a series of workshops with the shelter clients, creating original text that will serve as the libretto. All of the shelter clients will be paid and fully credited for inclusion in the show. We are also planning to consult with experts in homelessness and mental illness to ensure that our portrayal of mental illness is accurate, including Dr. Uma Sankaram, a clinical psychologist at the State Hospital in Salem.