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Up Wake by Carolina Pagani RZ

“We are not here to question the possible, we are here to challenge the impossible.”

Something that I find so amazing about Ted Talks is that the presenters are so passionate and eloquent that I can’t help but to be completely wrapped up in what they are saying. These presenters demand attention. (For those of you who don’t know, TED Technology, Entertainment, Design, is a non profit organization devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading.” For their conference series they recruit current innovatorsand thinkers who are challenging the way we look at technology and art to present ideas and new ways of thinking about life.)


Tsakos at TED

In 2009, Natasha Tsakos presented about her one-woman show Upwake. I watched the talk, one of my first ever TedTalks, with my sophomore year theatre class and we were struck at her specificity of movement in her performances and the captivating ideas about technology and art. I think about her often and have watched this video multiple times since then. Last night, I went on a Ted spree, watching various videos and eventually found my way back to Upwake.


Natasha was commissioned in 2003 to make a one woman show that explored theatre and technology. Four years later, she created Up Wake, a show that had her, an androgynous character named Zero, move and interact with projections on the four walls of her space as if it was another character.


I ask myself, what am I gaining from this talk this time around? Three things came to light in my mind.

1.    Technology. I am someone who is extremely keen to explore how technology interacts with theatre. In this day and age we face a generation expectant on instant gratification which comes from the ready access of entertainment on personal electronic devises. The ways in which we communicate are radically changing. The theatre is (used to be?) a key force in communication. Steps have been taken and will continue to be taken to explore how to meld the two works of visual technologies with the personal human connection. Granted, I amalso terrified. I am very conscious of the tech centric environment. I come home from breaks at college and my sister spends all her time on tumblr and twitter even after I haven’t seen her for six months. I crave that personal connection and part of my worries about losing that by incorporating technology. Which leads me to –

Natasha Tsakos by Carolina Pagani
2.    The human interaction. Natasha has created this character of Zero. An anamorphous character with white-blue hair that looks like no one and everyone. She talks about how this character allows people to open up to her in ways they wouldn’t otherwise if she looked normal. The opening up comes from the safety in believing that since this character is unlike anything else, I can easily believe you to be on my side. Don’t we all just want someone to be on our side? Zero never speaks and the world is created through images and sound. I’m reminded about how critical it is to engage audiences on a personal, human-to-human level in a way that other mediums can’t. Because Zero speaks no ones language, the level of communication is on a physical level- which is to say, the way we all speak no matter the perceived barriers.

3.    “In the science of today we become artists, in the art of today we become scientists.” Natasha claims there is a revolution happening in the way we think about art and science. What I find fascinating is that in 2009 this was true. In 2013, this is even more true. The revolution is brewing and breaking out great critical minds. I like to remind and challenge myself to see outside the walls of my school and my peers. To study beyond theatre, in the other disciplines of education. Science, literature, business. I want to be a part of this revolution. I’m not going to be of much help if I don’t have the cultural tools to see what needs to be addressed and how I can best make those changes.

4.    Surprise. There is a fourth. Collaboration. Tsakos stresses how she didn’t do this project alone. Collaboration is key. It is the drive force of creative stimulation. Who we surround ourselves with and who we learn from is the fuel to ignite the creative fire.


“We are not here to question the possible, we are here to challenge the impossible.”



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