Meet Diana Danko - an Interactive Vampire Tale (Canceled) project video thumbnail
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€3,178 pledged of €56,000 goal
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By Jakob Schindler-Scholz
€3,178 pledged of €56,000 goal
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About

We want to take interactive entertainment to the next level by creating a performance that is built together with the audience, everytime - online, and in real time. You watch, share your thoughts and we incorporate them into the story right away.
Oh, and did we mention there is a vampire?

 Meet Diana, Eva and Fiona in this interactive teaser for our previous project - "Diana Danko in Concert". Note: Interactive features work only on desktop and in the YouTube App, not in mobile browsers.

The Teaser introduces the characters and atmosphere of "Meet Diana Danko" - but the story will be different and especially the possibilities to interact will be much greater and more open.

Imagine you are at a bar, and you are immediately drawn to this  fascinating, yet slightly sinister woman. You try to figure out what to do, but she is already coming over to you, chatting you up, and before you know it you are on your way home together. As you pass through a dark alley, she leans in close to you, but her mouth is not seeking yours, but instead aiming for your neck. You feel a sharp, burning sensation and something wet running down your skin. She smiles at you, showing her blood-covered fangs.

A bit dazed and slightly weak in your knees you decide to still follow her home, drawn to her in a way that is completely new to you - only to find out upon your arrival that she already has two loyal servants who are all but thrilled about your arrival.

As you are standing there, trying to process all of this, Diana suddenly says goodbye and goes to her room as she sleeps during the day, leaving you in the company of two very determined women not at all eager to get more competition in the battle for Diana's affection.

How did they end up here? What are they capable of? Will they work together to get you out of the picture? Is it possible to gain their trust? When will Diana be back?

You are about to find out.

This is not a performance with some interactive elements added on top - it is a still frame waiting for your ideas to bring it to live, meaning it can't be performed without your engagement.

The whole reason for the existence of this project is our dissatisfaction with most current interactive theater and art pieces. So we created a story that is designed to be commented on, changed and turned on it's head every time it is told. Every aspect in production, story and dialogue will be there to make it as easy as possible for you to jump in and create a unique experience with us. Not only the ending, but the whole story and the relationships of the characters will change depending on your input. How do we know this will work? We've done it before (See "previously on" further down).

Our goal is for you to have the same freedom of choice and interaction as if you were actually there. So, instead of an actual audience, we will have a single actress assuming the role of an unsuspecting visitor who is thrown into the events without knowing anything about the situation or the characters - also known as the protagonist.

This actress will be equipped with a head mounted camera - it will be through her eyes that you experience the show. If you want to see how that will look like, you probably already have: We created our video exactly the same way the show will be shot.
This actress will be an active participant - reacting to what goes on around her, guided by her thoughts.

And that's where you come in: Your role as a participant is voicing the many thoughts running through the protagonists head. You can type whatever you want, at anytime during the performance. All the input is then clustered and visualized so that it's immediately clear what different opinions and moods there are in the audience.

Mockup of Interface
Mockup of Interface

 

Visualisation Close-Up
Visualisation Close-Up

 

 

  

 

We created Diana Danko in Concert (Page in German) for local short theater festival Mimamusch in Vienna. The evening starts out as a concert, but all goes horribly awry when Diana is interrupted feeding from one of her followers onstage. The audience manages to get her out, only to find themselves trapped with a vampire vigorously clawing at the only door. Should they just try to calm her down and trust she will not attack them, or get rid of her once and for all?

The first question we asked ourselves when designing the performance was: How can we make it as easy as possible for the audience to feel free to do whatever they want, to interact with us in whatever way they come up with? We developed this rather like a game than a theater piece, testing at a very early stage to see what worked and what didn't in terms of engaging the audience. We came up with a sort of tutorial, asking very small interactions from the audience at first, increasing the stakes as the situation progressed.

While "Meet Diana Danko" is going to have a different story and will work slightly different due to the fact that it does not have a physical audience, our experience with "Diana Danko in Concert" (and also various other projects created in the context of Urban Games Collective Play:Vienna) enables us to provide that same level of openness and interactivity for the project.

 

Budget Distribution
Budget Distribution

When the campaign finishes successfully, we will get right to work, and the first show will be on October 30th, 2017 - right on time so you have an awesome story to tell at your Halloween party, and also perfect to get into the perfect creative writing mood for the National Novel Writing Month, for those so inclined. Until then, we will test the story, develop the necessary technology, and also host a monthly Q&A for Backers of Club Danko, where we will keep you up to date and also test and improve the very technology that will be used during the performance.

Timeline
Timeline

 

Most of the team has known and worked with each other for years, so if the campaign succeeds, a well-oiled machine will once again start its engines to bring Diana Danko to life:

1. Jakob Schindler-Scholz
Creator

Jakobs favorite place is in-between: Theatre and Technology, Work and Leisure, Euphoria and Panic. He has worked as a theatre educator, web project manager and press secretary and is putting all his experience into creating “Meet Diana Danko”.

2. Julia Müllebner
Actress
Julia has seen the theatre from every angle: Sound technician, light technician, actress, singer, props department - as long as she can breathe “Bühnenluft” (literally stage air), she is happy.

3. Paula Kühn
Actress

Paula is a trained actress and clown who is restlessly trying to find new opportunities to act, play and grow.

4. Stella Reinhold
Actress
Fluent in german, french and english, Stella has done it all: performances, plays, film, always committing herself fully to the challenge.

5. Philipp Ehmann
Dramaturgy
All about interactive Art, Philipp is co-founder of the urban games collective “Play:Vienna”, director, photographer and dramaturg, using his expertise to bring your ideas into the performance.

6. Adam Wiemerslage
Developer, Message Clustering Algorithm
Adam is a grad student in computational linguistics at the University of Colorado, Boulder, who will make sure we can see all your ideas and thoughts instantly, no matter if they are long, short, modest or crazy.

7. Denise Latschein
Communication, Community Management and Design
A designer and illustrator by trade, Denise knows how to communicate an idea, regardless if by text, image or graphic. As a LARPer and Fantasy enthusiast, she is the perfect campaign chief for this project.

8. Gregor Čolnik
Developer, Web Interface
Gregor is a passionate web developer who is restless until he finds the perfect, most elegant solution to a problem. Located in Slovenia, he loves climbing and mountainbiking when taking a break from coding.

 

We thought long and hard about how to best get this input to the protagonist. We believe you cannot leave storytelling to some algorithm or program. We think it requires a great deal of empathy to create a great story. So we will have a person solely responsible for getting your ideas and wishes into the story: The dramaturg will constantly watch the visualization of you thoughts and have a voice link to the protagonist, through which he will give her the input to make the most in interesting and most playful developments for the story. Watch Philipp, the dramaturg, and Jakob, the creator, talk in detail about this process:

We have also created a schematic outlining how the different people and parts fit together to create a unique experience every time:


As you can see, only the protagonist receives input from the audience. This way, we make sure the other actresses can be completely in the moment, focus on their characters and the authentic reaction to the protagonists actions.

If you are interested in the technology behind the clustering of cour messages, check out this article by our developer Adam (pdf, 108kb) which explains on a technical level how the clustering will help us see all your ideas at one glance, showing the thoughts shared my many as well as strange obscure, crazy ideas only submitted by one or two people.

Why we want a different kind of art

Currently, most of society views Art as something completely separate from every life, which in turn means that artists are viewed as a special kind of people who somehow mysteriously possess the talent to create art - Jakob explains it in more detail in this article: Why we need a different view on art and society.

However, we disagree. One of the basic beliefs that led to the creation of Meet Diana Danko is that really, everyone's an artist. For this project, it means you have as much power and control over and responsibility for the performance as we do. Of course, we prepare ourselves, but in the end it is a true collaboration.

That also means that, ideally, creating art is viewed as common a skill as is writing today. Nobody would think of praising a person writing down a grocery list, despite it being a necessary and productive thing to do. We believe viewing art as a part of everyone's life instead of a skill only a select few possess would dramatically change the world for the better - and this project is our attempt at a tiny step in this direction.

A personal Note from Jakob (Creator of "Meet Diana Dano")

This project and its predecessor would not exist without the many, many men and women who are constantly fighting for gender equality in every aspect of politics, but also everyday life.

Why is that? For the past months, I have been taking paternity leave to be at home with my little child, while my wife went back to work. While taking care of an infant is an overall challenging job, it is not exactly intellectually challenging and from time to time leaves you with some headspace thinking about your current projects, or simply art and life in general. So, whenever there was time, I spent it developing the story and the characters, and the details of our interaction design in my head, meaning in the evening I could simply write down what was already completely formed in my mind.

Without this time being away from work and having my perspective on life and work in general challenged by a tiny strong-willed bundle of energy, I would have never developed the idea for this campaign. I am immensely grateful for that, but I also know that this time was not given to me at random, but fought for for a long time - both legally, so I get a part of my old salary while being at home, and culturally, so my environment accepts and encourages this decision.

Also, part of the money we want to raise is my cost of living for the 6 months it will take us to develop the project. Since me and my wife both work, this amount is considerable lower than if I had to sustain all three of us by myself. So to put it bluntly, gender equality not only made this campaign possible, it also made it cheaper (which also makes it much more likely for us to hit our goal). If you agree that that's a good thing, try to contribute to gender equality whenever and in whatever way you can.

Risks and challenges

"Meet Diana Danko" is a complex project, and one that to our knowledge never has been done before, combining theatre, improvisation and technology. So there is always a risk in trying something new, but as we have a lot of expertise in all involved fields, and the single parts are well-defined and tested, we are prepared to face the challenge of putting it all together.

All team members have cleared their schedule for rehearsal and development. The technical basis for the sorting algorithm is well-tested and reliable (for details see Adams article linked in the "How it works" section), and we will also test it during the monthly backer chats, so that when we start, the algorithm is battle-tested and fine-tuned.

When you try to agree on a date for a night out or a boardgame night with 2-3 other people, it can be complicated. What happens if several hundred people have to pick a date where they tell a new kind of story together? We believe everything will be fine: We will offer dates and times to choose from for multiple timezones (depending on where backers come from), and you will be able to specify if none of the dates work for you, then we will try our best to offer a range of dates where everyone can find one that works.

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    You will get access to the recording of the first show.

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    Get a glimpse into Dianas world: One ticket for nearly 30% off the retail price (€ 25)

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    Early Season Bird

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    Season Pass

    Get the full Diana Danko experience!
    You get a Season Pass, meaning you get access to all shows we will play (at least 6, more depending on the number of backers) and you can truly explore the possibilities of the piece, trying something new every time.

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    Early Club Bird

    You get access to our secret backers area "Club Danko" at a special price, where you will be able to share your opinion on casting and location choices and be invited to a monthly video chat, where we will answer your questions using the same clustering technology as for the performance.

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    Club Danko

    You get access to our secret backers area "Club Danko", where you will be able to share your opinion on casting and location choices and be invited to a monthly video chat, where we will answer your questions using the same clustering technology as for the performance.

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    Decorate Dianas Domicile

    You can either send us a (preferrably strange) object by mail (shipping costs to be payed by you) or a picture of you, and we will add it to the set of the show. No advertising, and we reserve the right to refuse objects.

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    Creator's Package

    Diana Danko ♥ NaNoWriMo! Just in time for the National Novel Writing Month, you will be invited to a storytelling workshop (held over Skype) with Jakob and Philipp in October where they will not only spill the beans about the tricks and tools of building a non-linear story, but also answer any questions you might have for your own projects.

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    Dine with Diana

    We will invite you to a dinner with the characters of "Meet Diana Danko" on location in Vienna, Austria (Travel and accomodation not included). The dinner will be entirely in-character. You will receive info about your character (Traits, appearance, goals) ahead of time. This dinner will be only held once for those who choose this reward, and its story will be exclusively written for this occasion and not be a part of "Meet Diana Danko". This is for you if you enjoy LARPing and want to get as close to the characters as possible.

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    Producer

    You will get a producer credit for the show and have one personal skype call with the creators of "Meet Diana Danko" where you can give us input, ask questions, or just tell a joke - whatever you like.

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    It's your Show

    We will put on a rendition of "Meet Diana Danko" just for you. You can give away tickets, choose date and time and consult with us beforehand if you have any special suggestions (which we will try to accomodate, but no guarantees).

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    The voice in her head

    We will put on a rendition of "Meet Diana Danko" just for you. You will be the only participant, and you will get a direct voice link to the protagonist, telling her directly what you think (No creepy stuff, or we will mute you).

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Funding period

- (31 days)