#onlinedating | Canadian expat tackles ‘disheartening’ world of online dating in one-woman show created in her London apartment | #bumble | #tinder | #pof

With her London apartment as the setting, Canadian expat Michelle Hudson is exploring the COVID-inspired new world of digital theatre with an innovative live “virtual” one-woman show that incorporates gaming and audience interaction while taking a risque look at online dating.

The show — which has been a modest hit in London, where it’s sold out its five online performances — is coming to local audiences courtesy of Barrie’s Talk Is Free Theatre, from March 5 to 14. Hudson, a trained actor and game designer, said the show draws on her often hair-raising and disheartening experiences as a single woman navigating the online world of dating.

“I knew that I wanted to make a show that was personal and vulnerable as well as being playful and fun and filthy and all of that stuff,” Hudson said.

“It’s partly came about … because of the lockdown situation. When I started creating the show, London was under a total lockdown. So I kind of made use of all of the space and stuff that was around me,” she added.

“I’d been single for a while, and was finding the online dating thing really disheartening. Online dating is the main way that people meet partners these days … but it can also make you feel really disposable,” she said, noting the prevalence of unsolicited pictures of male anatomy and unwelcome and raunchy chat room messages.

The show is called “Manimals,” based on Hudson’s observations of a sizable number of profiles on online dating apps of men posting pictures with exotic animals. Not trophy hunters, she assured.

“I’m an animal lover and I thought it was a very interesting statement about what they (the men) were trying to put out there and how they were presenting themselves. I said very clearly that I was only interested in people whose animals were alive,” Hudson said.

For example: “Someone who has been to the zoo and they were feeding a giraffe or maybe had a parrot perched on their shoulder or they were riding a camel. There were so many llamas. So many llamas,” she said.

Arkady Spivak, artistic producer of the Barrie theatre company, said the digital show was a good fit for the company, which embraces “immersive” theatre in “unconventional spaces.” The company is best known for staging quirky and unusual works, including last summer’s National Arts Centre-commissioned work “Something Bubbled, Something Blue” staged in a Barrie park which had members of a wedding party wearing large plastic bubbles. It was viewed 1.4 million times on Facebook.

Participants must sign up online for performances, which begin on March 5. The show is free, although those who sign up and don’t attend will pay a $25 fee.

Hudson said the mobile game called “Manimals” — designed along with Stitch Media, a U.K.-Canadian company — is integral to the performance and the participants should be prepared for explicit content, including an “artistically conceived sex scene,” and to take part in various interactive scenes, including Truth or Dare questions and “chat roulette.”

“(The performance) is absolutely not for under 18s and it’s also not safe for work. Don’t do it at work and you might want to wear headphones if you share your home,” Hudson said.



Hudson said she believes digital theatre and “virtual” performances — necessitated by the pandemic — will endure.

“I am so excited about the possibilities that digital theatre presents — for artists, for venues, for audience members. This new form that didn’t really exist before COVID, and has now kind of jumped onto the scene, it’s got creators like me, who come from a very interdisciplinary, multimedia, gaming kind of background creating work that is so specific to a digital platform,” Hudson said.

“Artists should be able to take this new platform and really, really run with it. I think there is so many possibilities for showing works in people’s homes, wherever they are around the world, and for it to feel live and exciting and something new and groundbreaking that they can really engage with and interact with,” she added.

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