Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Drive Behind Pangdemonium

When thinking about digital storage in relation to performing arts, we usually gravitate towards filmmakers and musicians, they being the ones having to record numerous drafts and snippets and footage and clips as they work towards a final piece, often in uncompressed data formats that require obscene amounts of storage capacity.

Thespians aren't the first performers that come to mind when considering the horrors of a perpetual digital storage crisis. As an art form that is brought to the audience in real life and real time, the world of theatre, traditionally at least, requires far less storage than their counterparts. It's hard to say in this day and age that there is zero requirement for storage in theatre, where sound effects and soundtracks often support shows, and video embellishments and interactivity are increasingly commonplace and complex.

Local theatre company Pangdemonium was founded in 2009 by actor Adrian Pang and wife Tracie. Following the success of "Fat Pig" and "The Rise and Fall of Little Voice", the latest play to undergo Pangdemonium's treatment is "Frozen". No, something much darker than a princess with ice-making powers.

I had the opportunity to learn more from the man himself, Adrian, about how technology has changed us as a society, and how it has affected him and the company.

First of all Adrian, what would you say Pangdemonium stands for?
Pangdemonium stands for theatre that is not only entertaining, but also enriching, enlightening, and empowering; we believe in theatre that is aspirational and inspirational, passionate and compassionate, and impacts on audiences viscerally, intellectually, emotionally.

As you see it, is technology today stripping away what it means to be human, or does it in fact help reveal more of the human condition?
Technology certainly is keeping people apart, especially when people are together. You only have to observe friends or families in public, for proof that people have forgotten how to truly be together. Even in the theatre or the cinema, many individuals feel the compulsion to disengage from what they have paid to experience, in order to check up on what is happening on the outside. Which, by the way, is bloody rude, not only to the actors on stage, but also to the other members of the audience. If someone ever does so when I'm on stage I WILL MAKE SURE THEY STOP.

In fact your latest play Frozen deals very much with the human condition. What do you ultimately want your viewers to take home from that?
Three things:
  1. that we all have a responsibility as a community to protect all children from abuse in all its forms;
  2. crime and punishment, justice and retribution, redemption and forgiveness - forget everything you think you know, because Frozen will test you and make you re-evaluate your beliefs, and even get into heated arguments about them; 
  3. there does not need to be singing and dancing, fancy costumes and moving sets, for it to be a great night at the theatre.
Hand on heart, how much time do you spend on your gadgets? Are they a big part of your life? And what can’t you live without?I am a bit of a tech moron, so my gadget needs are very basic. I probably would have trouble with an electric toothbrush. But having said that, I cannot live without my laptop. In fact, I have a love-hate affair with it.

That said, you work with Western Digital for your storage needs for Pangdemonium; what do you use and can you tell us how does it fit into your workflow?
I am constantly working on some kind of writing - whether it's composing copy for publicity collateral, scripting, content for production programmes, etc - which takes up a lot of time, because there's always updating, editing and re-writing to do. I actually secretly love it! And having WD for my storage needs has been a real blessing and huge help to me, because I know that WD always has my back: speed, volume, security, reliability - for a borderline OCD writer like me, it's a perfect writing companion!

Pangdemonium uses a mix of portable and desktop hard disk drives from Western Digital, with the My Cloud EX4 storage server at the heart of their operations. As the company's central drive, it provides secure remote data access to employees wherever they are, as long as they have an Internet connection, and automatically backs up all computers and devices. This increased accessibility to the latest and most updated information has given the team more time to prepare for each production, instead of constantly having to housekeep their shared drive, and added assurance of data safety, with its backup measures.

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