5Dinners has begun

Thanks to anyone who stopped by #5Dinners last night. Our rehearsals began last night with a few technical issues that we’re working on ironing out. The Twitter app for OS X we were using to operate all 12 (with a new one added each night) avatars had a slight delay, so some of our lines crossed. We’ll be studying the dinner, making revisions, and thinking about how to introduce each new character without going over time. Our original plan was to add a new character each night and start again from the beginning but I don’t think that will be possible, time-wise.

That said, I was amazed that we were able to work our way somehow to the intended conclusion and get through the performance. We were most pleased with Harold Skimpole from Bleak House and a Vague Sens of Unease, and I thought Harold and Coavinses (the warrant officer who comes to arrest Skimpole for debt) had a lively exchange, but just as we were getting comfortable, the dinner was over!

Our four year old, who occasionally performs as Future Boy, was not at all pleased with the flurry of attention our screens received last night. He thought he could enjoy the lavished attention of an only child, only to be shocked by digital siblings on laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Tonight we’ll be focusing on developing Future Boy and Head of John. These characters, originally conceived as oppositional, really did not come to life. The problem we’re having with John is how to create a compelling character that acts both as the voice of dissent and provides comic relief and whether these two goals can be compatible. It seems he must serve as an earnest but ridiculous exhorter or a grown-wise prophet who after observing the world for so many millennia has developed an attitude of self-conscious humor that gently pokes fun at his own role while taking it seriously. We hope tonight’s performance will present a John that resolves this.

Future Boy’s unintelligible garble and the device we have of running his speech through Google Voice fell somewhat flat. I don’t yet know what we’ll do with this character, but look for changes.

In addition, we will be adding to all the characters profiles and adding more original source material. Part of my excitement about this project springs from my belief that great writers like Charles Dickens can be understood deeply just by studying small snippets of their work. It isn’t necessary for a modern reader to sit down and read Bleak House in its entirety to get a feel for Dickens mastery of character and how his stunning realism influenced and shaped the advent of cinema. It’s all there, in every single passage: in sharable bits that can even be embedded in a single tweet.

Markus Orlyus and I will be discussing certain works featured so look for an added element of criticism.

We promised to deliver details to guests on how to experience the dinner, and here they are:

Each character will have a posted List called Five Dinners in Five Days on their profile so you can view the show, from 8pm to 12 midnight each night. You don’t have to be present in real-time to view it, just scroll down to 8 pm EST and read through midnight. To interact, search the hashtag #5Dinners and change default view from Top to All.

Tonight’s famous menu from literature:

Apéritifs: transparent liquid (either vodka or pure alcohol)

Appetizers: slices of pineapple with salt and pepper

Main course: juicy meats

Palate cleanser: oysters with mustard and grapes

Second course: roasted tiger

Dessert: coffee and cigars

Feel free to talk to the characters or join some of the dialogues we’ll be putting up during the festival between certain characters. Check out their profiles and look for conversations between them. We are sharing music, video, and other multimedia to develop the characters.

The festival ends on Sunday night, and that will be our final performance. We are hoping for this final dinner to be a truly polished piece of theatre, so be sure to tune into this final act.

Check out all the other stories from around the world at #twitterfiction.

Happy literature!

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