You know how I am continually fascinated by the experiments that people try out in SL. If it's a different, I'll go look at it. So not surprisingly I got excited when Addison Leigh, a friend from Deadwood, recently told me about the build in the Virtual Macbeth sim, called "Foul Whisperings, Strange Matters - A Second Life Treatment of Macbeth." Tonight she took me to see it, and we had a great time.
According to the project website:
"Virtual Macbeth is an island in Second Life which is dedicated to the exploration, adaptation and performance of Shakespeare's Macbeth. The island was designed by Angela Thomas (virtual worlds content designer), Kerreen Ely-Harper (director) and Kate Richards (producer). Funding was provided by Literature Board of The Australian Council for the Arts , and investor partner, the New Media Consortium.
The island is designed with target audiences of Shakespeare afficionados, Secondary and Tertiary educators and their students."
So we went, and it took us a while to get the hang of navigating it (which is part of its appeal, I think--you're not going to get this build if you're a dry-humping moron). But once you do get it, and understand how to navigate and you find all the helpful directions and explanations on the wiki that you are given a link to, it's a fascinating exploration of abstract concepts and themes that are key to understanding and enjoying the play.
It's not what I was expecting, which would have been straightforward recreations of scenes and settings from the play. Instead, it was a tour of the inside of Macbeth's head (literally and figuratively) and the different elements of the build trace his journey into madness and ultimately, his destruction. There are choices to make, different paths to follow, and various surrealist manifestations of abstract ideas, such as a maze, ruins, and a "chamber of blood" in which you take on the the part of the increasingly mad king, striking out at anyone who threatens your power (provided you put on the attachment gizmo you were supposed to pick up from the fountain in the entry area).
Here are Addison and I, lashing out at the apparitions in this particular environment:
There is a throne room environment, but it is not meant as a literal representation of a medieval throne room: it is meant to represent "Macbeth's ego" according to the guide on the wiki, and includes various interactive features and ghosts and a heapin' helpin' of symbolism. It's really fun stuff--very engaging, and you can spend quite a while exploring and figuring things out, and trying different elements of the build. I truly recommend that if you choose to make a visit, you do so with a friend (preferably someone who like yourself, is not a dry-humping moron) so you can enjoy discovering the little surprises of the build together, discussing what this or that thing might mean or represent, and every now and then helping each other out with a shove or a well-timed tp when you get stuck or befuddled (there was point in the maze where I was wishing I had just a teensy bit of C4 to expedite making an exit--though I did get it figured out eventually).
Stylistically the look of the sim is very Bayreuth Opera, 1953: lots of German expressionst and surrealist vocabulary, which I found kind of fun. After all, Shakespeare is, in many ways, very operatic in scope and subject matter, so I thought it fit. And although the notecard instructions at the beginning tell you to keep the environment settings on default (which is night time), if you go ahead and put it on sunset, you get a pretty spectacular effect that enhances the surreal affect of the build.
Parts of the build are actually downright gorgeous in sunset lighting--it really reminds me of stuff my uncle did after WWII when he went to art school on the GI Bill: warm lighting washing over ruins and wind swept landscapes, expressing just a touch of melancholy with maybe a little PTSD thrown in for good measure.
So yes, if you're not an idiot, you probably want to go check this out if you haven't already. And, yeah, I know, it apparently has been up since late last year, but hey, I freely admit that I live most of my life under a freakin' rock, OK?
And if maybe you're going "hey, this is old news..." What can I say? Sorry I didn't tell you about this sooner, but I get around only a little at a time in my travels. So sue me.
Seriously, despite some confusing moments (some of which may have been the result of some of the AV stuff or other bits possibly being borked by SL), I think it's worth a visit and spending some time. Addi and I enjoyed ourselves, and we spent a good hour or so looking around and playing with many of the elements. A lot of thought and effort went into this particular experiment, and I could see it inspiring some other interesting stuff in the future.