[-empyre-] Introducing Helen Varley Jamieson

Helen Varley Jamieson is a  writer and theatre artist who has been 
exploring the concept of  cyberformance during the last 5 years.

Helen's background is in theatre, but as it's difficult to earn a 
living as a theatre practitioner in New Zealand, she had various 
different day jobs and ended up working in the internet industry in 
the mid-90s. Doing everything from hand-coding HTML to project 
managing large corporate web sites in NZ and the UK, she continued to 
write plays and build web sites for theatre groups. As her 
professional and creative interests came together, she began to 
explore the internet as a performance space, working with Desktop 
Theater (http://www.desktoptheater.org) in 2000-01. She coined the 
term "cyberformance" to describe live performance where remote 
players come together via the internet, as she found terms like 
"virtual theatre" or "online performance" limiting for the emerging 
art form.

Following a presentation with Desktop Theater at the Odin Teatret, 
Denmark, in 2001, Helen was inspired to experiment further with the 
combination of live stage and live internet. She returned to New 
Zealand and initiated the[abc]experiment, involving 16 people from 
around the world in a 6-month practical research project and 
culminating with a performance at the NZ Fringe Festival in 2002. 
 From this, four of the group decided to continue the work as Avatar 
Body Collision, and have been presenting cyberformance at festivals 
around the world since then. The members of Avatar Body Collision 
live in Aotearoa/NZ, London and Helsinki, and have never physically 
met as a group - all their work is devised, rehearsed and performed 
via the internet - sometimes with live stage performers and sometimes 
completely online.

During 2003-04, Helen has been project managing a software 
development, UpStage (http://www.upstage.org.nz). This was funded by 
the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology and Creative New 
Zealand, and is a web-based venue for cyberformance. Audience and 
players need only a browser and internet connection to participate in 

Helen's other work includes being Web Queen for the Magdalena Project 
(http://www.themagdalenaproject.org); three stage plays 
professionally produced in Wellington and Dunedin; writing for 
various magazines, newspapers and online publications; web copy 
writing and project management; teaching web development; researching 
and writing the copy for the schools CD-ROM "Creative Explorer"; 
writing, directing and producing for theatre and video productions; 
arts administration; and more ... see 

In the last 5-6 years she has spent more time out of New Zealand than 
in it, but now she is enjoying a period of grounding at home. While 
she has previously experienced negative feelings of isolation and 
lack of understanding, on this return she senses a positive change in 
the local and national artistic environment. She's still trying to 
work out exactly what that change is, but so far it feels good. The 
only thing that's pissing her off right now is Wellington's wind - 
something she will never get used to.

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