Media Designer
Giada Sun
Assistant Media Designer
Joyce Wang & SooA Kim
Main Tools
Millumin, p5.js, Processing, After Effects
How to Put On a Sock is an interactive theatrical performance where audiences participate through anonymous, text-in polling to explore sex education and abortion policy across the United States. The script was created from Frank Wedekind's classic play Spring Awakening and contemporary American sex education curricula.
As the media designer, I led a design team to work with the director, Rachel Karp and other theater designers. We ideated and experimented with different patterns of audience participation. The goal is to encourage people with dissimilar background to join the larger discussions of the national issues within the play. We implemented a real-time polling system and created media contents as projection for the show to overcome the design challenges.
The project has been selected for inclusion in the Emerging Exhibit from the USA for
2019 Prague Quadrennial and USITT Stage Expo
The script created two worlds in parallel: the classroom and memories scenes. In the classroom scenes, a teacher taught audiences, who were set as high school students, sex-ed lessons and led related activities; In the memories scenes, the two American teenagers, who were teacher's assistants in class, explored the mysteries of their bodies and gradually approached an irretrievable tragedy. In the end, the two worlds combined into one when V, the girl was pregnant and asked for help from the teacher.
How to Put On a Sock by Sanford Johnson
Since the audiences were regarded as high school students by actors and they would be invited to attend a series of existing class activities as a part of American sex education curricula. As the media designer, my mission is to explore technologies for improving or even creating new experience of audience's participation. In terms of the prerequisites, I defined my challenges using the How Might We questions below.
After running through a monthlong ideation process, we picked up some possible ideas for each challenge and then brought forward the solutions with an experience map.
Real-time Polling
Commonly used in class nowadays, real-time polling system provides a platform for audiences to express their opinions and realize diversity. It also strengthens people's participation.
Free Response Question
Raise an free response question and project all results on stage as the ending. It created a neutral storytelling style and a thought-provoking picture to audiences.
SMS Text Message
Audience members can use built-in message app on their phone to participate polling via texting few words. It's accessible and intuitive.
Flipping Board
Since legislations and state names were the dominant visual element of the show, flipping board was an efficient carrier to create clear-cut transitions between scenes.
prototyping & testing
Real-time Polling
The real-time polling system was powered by Poll Everywhere. We created the prototypes using p5.js and then conducted four testings with students in drama school. We gathered feedbacks and decided to simplify the process and add more explanations to character's lines in script, aiming to reduce the learning curve of usign text polling. To stablize the system, we develped the final system using Google Slides and Processing.
Last Questions
We worked with the director to make the ending more thought-provoking rather than declaring our position to the issue. In the final script, the ending merely remains two questions to audience about the girl's pregnancy, including a multiple choices and an open question. We experiemnted different visualization of the last polling results and projected them at actual size in theater, avoiding making the visuals too dramatic or distractive.
Visual Style of the Sex-ed Slides
We collected some feedbacks from after-show talks and separate interviews with audience. Here are the three main points from the feedbacks.
Authenticity of Polling
As an unprecedented experience for most audience in theater, the real-time polling was supposed to be fake and pre-recorded. However, once they saw the results from an open question rather than a multiple choices question, those weird and humorous answers accidentally changed their mind immediately. This is what we should take into consideration while drawing the experience map.
70% Participation
The average participation rate is about 70 percent, which seems really satisfactory. However, we realized that the interaction system worked pretty well particularly thanks to the fact that most of our audiences were within the School of Drama community. There was already a trusting, friendly atmosphere in the room. For the possible reproduction in the future, we should do user research with the remaining 30 percent of people.
Audience’s Self-identity
There’s a dramaturgical question emerged in the process that who should the audience be in this scenario? Are they high school students, or still themselves? It turned out that most people answered the questions as their own self, but the mixture of real world and theatrical world made many people question what they would have answered if they were in high school.