BWW Interview: Katherine Catmull on SISTER OF SHATTERING GLASS February 13th Deadline
Young Adult novelist and actress Katerine Catmull has teamed up with Physical Plant Theatre to create SISTER OF SHATTERING GLASS, an adventure story told entirely with text messages. The adventure follows Catmull's characters Summer and Bird in a race to the center of a dark maze located behind the mirrors of the world, where a being born from reflections and fractures threatens to devour the maze from within - including the two sisters and every bird on earth. People who join up for the adventure will take the role of father, receiving messages from the two daughters. The adventure is written by Catmull, featuring characters from her novel, Summer and Bird, and will feature photographs by Annie Gunn and sound design by Buzz Moran. The story unfolds gradually over the course of five months.
Broadway World recently had an opportunity to talk to Katherine Catmull to find out more about this unique and exciting new theatrical venture.
Q: Can you describe SISTER OF SHATTERING GLASS for our readers?
KC: It's an all-ages fantasy adventure that takes place entirely in your own text messages. Basically, you're signing up for a strange little trickle of joy and strangeness and excitement amidst all the "pick up milk on your way home" messages. And it's only $6-or free for teens and tweens who can't afford it.
Q: What can people expect who sign up for the adventure?
KC: Expect that beginning on February 17, you'll start getting texts related to a curious adventure your "daughters" Summer and Bird are about to fall into headfirst. Some days you'll get no texts at all-sometimes four or so. Most days it will just be one or two. Some of the texts will contain extraordinary images-photos and selfies the girls take of the maze-world behind the mirrors. Sometimes you'll even get recordings of the eerie sounds and songs of that world.
Q: When does this start? Is there a deadline?
KC: Signups end soon: 6:30pm Central time this Monday, February 13. You'll get a text or two explaining how it all works-and then the story itself begins February 17.
Q: How long does the adventure last?
KC: It ends in July. I KNOW, it's crazy, five months! But you get slowly wrapped up in this amazing journey that's happening in real time-it becomes intertwined with your own life. I've participated as an audience member in Physical Plant Theater's two earlier text pieces, and I didn't want them to end. I cried at the end of the first one!
Q: I notice this new work includes the characters Summer and Bird from a previous literary work of yours. Do people coming along on this adventure need to know these characters to appreciate SISTER OF SHATTERING GLASS?
KC: Not at all. It's a completely freestanding story.
Q: How did the idea come about to create a piece of cyber theatre?
KC: Steve Moore of Physical Plant Theater approached me, and I jumped at it. He's the genius behind this whole concept, and wrote two similar pieces himself in previous years. This time, he was looking for something that would appeal to all ages, so he asked me to be involved, since I write for young adults.
Q: How do people sign up for this since there is no physical venue?
KC: The signup deadline is almost upon us! 6:30pm Central Monday, February 13. No late seating! We're selling "tickets" via a Kickstarter at this link:
You can also read more about the story at the Physical Plant Theater site: https://physicalplant.org/sosg/
Q: Is a smartphone absolutely essential to participants? Do they interact or reply to the text messages they will receive?
KC: No interaction, but you do need a smartphone, because important parts of the story come as images or recordings.
Q: Since this adventure last for five months, is there a way to opt out before the end is reached?
KC: Absolutely, and it's incredibly easy. You can text PAUSE to any number you've been getting messages from-that will halt the texts temporarily (you text RESUME when you want to begin again). Or you can text DONE and have it stop forever.
Q: Is this geared just for young adults or can anyone participate?
KC: It's very much meant to be all ages-we've included bits that can be enjoyed on many levels.
Q: I understand that the audience takes the role of a father receiving the text messages. Are there just 3 characters?
KC: Most of the texts you get will be from one of the two girls-but once the story starts, if you get a surprising text from a strange number, take our advice and put it in your contacts. New characters come and go as well.
Q: Does the audience have to take any action beyond the text messages?
KC: Not really-well, with one exception. We've found in the past that people enjoy this kind of piece much more when they put the numbers they receive messages from into their contacts as "Summer," "Bird," etc. If you're not sure how to do that, we have quick, easy tutorials. Also, some people like to give the numbers from the story a special ringtone-or silence the notification for those numbers altogether. That's quite easy to do as well, and we can show you how.
Q: Do you envision doing more of these in the future if there is a demand?
KC: I'm sure Physical Plant will do more! Me, I'd love to play with this form in some way or another again.
Q: Is there anything else you feel potential adventure seekers should know?
KC: It's extra fun to do with friends and/or your favorite teens or tweens. It's like binging a TV show-more fun if there's someone around to share the surprises and speculate about the mysteries with.
Physical Plant Theater is the recipient of numerous B. Iden Payne Awards, Austin Critics Table Awards, and David Mark Cohen Playwriting Awards. With award-winning shows like Nightswim and Computer Simulation of the Ocean, and are dedicated to making work created entirely in Austin, often about Austin, and always deeply connected to this place and this community. Physical Plant is supported by the Creative Fund and by individual donors.