hird Week of Trinity term saw the production of a remarkable piece of theatre from the Keble Drama Workshop. Reality Bytes, written and directed by second years Philip Trethowan and Hugh Welchman, had a cast dominated by Keble students. Set fifty years in the future, it presents a picture of a computer-dominated society frighteningly recognisable as a product of our own consumer ethos. Trethowan envisages a totalitarian state that allows each family only two children - a boy and a girl. Any excess offspring are placed in virtual reality units and fed on images.
Into this general situation comes personal tragedy: that of Stephen and his family. He is one of the unwanted children, but is unwittingly let out of his computer generated prison by his little sister. Not knowing how to do anything except imitate images, he subsequently kills her by copying the actions of the violent video game she is playing. The release and murder are a watershed in the passive lives of his family: through losing one child and rediscovering another they are led to question the society that has caused their pain and the true rights of the individual within it.
Such a production has obviously been challenging to undertake, and not just from the actors' point of view. Appropriately for such a futuristic theme, the backstage side of things required many innovative techniques. Traditional scenery was eschewed in favour of images of film, animation and club music - in effect, a virtual reality set for a virtual reality world. According to Welchman, the technical headaches caused by this were well worth it for the end result. As was, in fact, the whole venture.
"It took over my life," he grins, but doesn't seem to mind this at all. It's obviously a play that has that kind of effect, as the lives of the audience too are subjected to the uncompromising questioning of its message.
trangeways, a University-wide magazine inspired by Keble students, burst upon Oxford's literary scene this summer. Founded and run by current Keble students Jacob Waite and Emily Fereday, its aim is to break out of the stereotypes set by other Oxford student publications.
"I felt the commissioning and editing of pieces which went on at other Oxford papers resulted in the suppression of diversity of opinion and fields of interest among students in the University," says Waite, explaining his motivation for establishing the magazine.
Accordingly, its editors do not commission specific pieces; their only editorial line is to have no editorial line. The first edition is made up of students' poetry and, as future issues will be circulated throughout the University, it is hoped that a move will be made away from the Keble orientation which characterises it at the moment. Either way, it looks set to stay, and all those frustrated by the cliques that often surround the present papers will be glad to be given the chance to have their say!
the brick issue 4 - Trinity Term 1995
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