Review: Project-a-Sketch (Mind of a Snail Puppet Co. – Primetime Theatre Festival)

Jessica Gabriel and Chloe Ziner's heads surrounded by bright colours

Project-a-Sketch is part of the Primetime Festival. In an earlier review I mentioned that one of the things I like about digital Theatre festivals is the opportunity to see performances from other parts of the country. Mind of a Snail Puppet Co. – Jessica Gabriel and Chloe Ziner – is based in East Vancouver and that’s where the show was performed.

Another thing I like – sort of – is learning about new social platforms. Other than With Love and a Major Organ (The Audio Play) all of the shows in the festival start in Gather. Some shows stay there; for the ones that don’t you’re taken to the appropriate platform from Gather. Project-a-Sketch is on Twitch.

Gabriel and Ziner have a regular live stream on Twitch – Mind of a Snail, Sunday, 7:30pm-10:30pm PST. It took me a while to figure out that the people commenting were primarily their regular audience rather than their Primetime audience.

Based on the description on the Primetime blurb I had no idea what to expect. “… Mind of a Snail has constructed a magical portal in their living room, and they want to invite you in! With live music, a multi-camera set-up, overhead projectors, and delightful and surprising use of interactive technology. ”

From their Twitch page – “Mind of a Snail is an experimental shadow theatre duo …” and “Virtual Shadowjam! is a magical blend of improvised musical jam, in-the-moment shadow puppetry, spontaneous storytelling and THE INTERNET.” I didn’t look at the Twitch page until after I saw the show.

For me Project-a-Sketch was definitely experimental theatre. The show opened with Corey the Tech (Ziner) appearing briefly on the screen, then disappearing, then appearing again, saying something to which a comment appeared, “we can’t hear you” and a voice replied “we’ll be right there”. Corey appeared again with an oversized plug and plugged it in to the camera, and there they were in their living room, as advertised.

Gabriel explained that Project-a-Sketch had been broadcasting for a year, that they connect with their audience through chat and invited us to share our thoughts. She said they were shadow puppeteers and that they had three puppets that could guide us into the next moment.

The audience clicked like mad to choose the one they wanted. Philip the Fish won the click game and became the guide. The moment involved community art using Jamboard. The story continued with Gabriel getting in trouble and Ziner rescuing her with the audience offering suggestions. There was also music provided by Ziner and other shadow puppetry from Gabriel as well as lots of interaction with the audience.

Theatre is wonderful; it offers something for everyone. Sometimes you might have to search a bit to find the styles and genres you prefer. Even when you know what you like it can be wonderful to go see something that’s completely different from what you would normally choose.

That said, not every show is for everyone. Project-a-Sketch wasn’t for me. I’m not a person who is typically part of group chats except when my grand-kid wants us all to play a game on a Sunday afternoon. And then I only do it because I love them dearly and everyone is family and we’re all pretty funny. And it only happens a few times a year.

Don’t let me keep you away. It may be perfect for you.

Details:

  • Project-a-Sketch is part of the Primetime Festival
  • Performances are November 20 and 25 2021 at 8:00 pm
  • Tickets are pay what you can and range from $5 to $100
  • Tickets and passes are available online

Photo of Jessica Gabriel and Chloe Ziner provided by the company

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