In an era where live theater isn't possible, playwright Celine Song got creative by using The Sims 4 to act out an Antov Chekhov play. The adaptation of Chekhov's "The Seagull," titled "The Seagull on The Sims 4" drew in hundreds of viewers as a two-night event broadcast on Twitch.
Song referred to the show as a "durational installation art piece," and encountered many unique challenges trying to get her Sims to act accordingly for the play's scenes. The event knit together the worlds of gaming and theater, where the audience participated and gave advice to Song along the way. From creating the characters to trying to get them to follow the proper actions, it was an interactive experience that bridged the gap between game streaming and the theatrical arts.
It didn't go completely smoothly, of course. The stream did go out at one point, and the Sims were a bit rebellious, ignoring Song's orders to take care of more pressing needs like eating.
The play was a part of the New York Theatre Workshop's Artistic Instigators Program, meant to provide help to theater professionals who have been displaced by the pandemic. Song's creativity allowed a space for theater to continue even if the venues are closed, with a unique sense of audience participation that came from the Twitch chat.
Talking with Polygon, Song discussed the unique experience of bringing theater into The Sims. “In The Sims, we as players are both Gods and voyeurs," said Song. "That seemed to closely resemble the experience of writing and watching a play as a playwright, but without the living, breathing humans as the actors."
It remains to be seen whether we can expect a Sims 4 adaptation of Waiting for Godot anytime soon, but Song has certainly set the stage to make it possible.
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