PERSONAL FILTER 2 The Snappening

Snapchat: personalfilter, (not a specified venue)

11/02/2017 - 04/03/2017

NZ Fringe Festival 2017 [reviewing supported by WCC]

Production Details

This Fringe, It’s Snappening Again.

2016’s bite-sized festival treat is back again: Personal Filter 2 is bringing four more stories to your phone via Snapchat!

Friend personalfilter now and guarantee a killer Snapchat streak all Fringe long, with four thrilling young companies from Wellington and beyond sending you day-long stories of intrigue and excitement.

Snapchat: personalfilter
11, 18, 25 Feb, & 4 Mar

Theatre , Multimedia mobile application ,

Saturdays only

A cartoon adventure in the real world

Review by James Stevenson 12th Feb 2017

Last Fringe, Making Friends Collective had the bright idea of putting on a show through Snapchat*, telling a story over a series of snaps throughout a day. The result was Personal Filter, and I didn’t see it, but it must have been a success, because this year (to quote the Fringe brochure) it’s Snappening again.

Personal Filter 2: The Snappening is on every Saturday in the Fringe, and features work from four different theatre companies. Next Saturday it’ll be Apple Box Brand, with the Saturday after that bringing work from Discharge, and the last day finishing with something from Making Friends Collective themselves.

SPOILERS FROM HERE for Women Aren’t Wolves’ piece for Personal Filter 2, which has been and gone and will never be staged again presumably

I did not have a Snapchat account, so on Friday night I downloaded the app and created an account. The show begins mid-morning the next day with a shot of a young woman sleeping and the text “Love of my life after hens night ! 9hrs 2go” Further updates, sporadically posted through the late morning, show her and another woman engaging in various activities (putting on makeup, going to the waterfront, having brunch) and mention is made of “saving 4 our dream home”.

Then a video of the other woman talking about how deeply she knows that she loves her. While who ‘she’ is is unspecified, it soon becomes clear that the two women are preparing to marry each other today. (I really should have picked up on this from the ‘hens night’ post, but ah well.) A few pictures of wedding preparations are posted in the afternoon, and an invitation announces that the wedding will be on the waterfront at 7:00pm.

A bit before seven, more updates are posted. The wedding is going to be outside Circa, and there’s a strange girl hanging around wearing thick circle-rimmed glasses and pigtails with a vertical-striped shirt. The video where we first see her is captioned ‘what is she doing here’. Then the brides talk about their feelings pre-wedding; one’s very excited, and another seems possibly a bit uncertain, though it’s somewhat difficult to read their emotions with the high pitches applied to their voices by the Snapchat filters.

The wedding goes ahead with the strange girl gone, but then she rushes back in with a declaration of love. The brides respond:
RED: I love-
BLONDE: I love-
BOTH: We love…

And so they all three get married and they dance to a guy drumming on an empty bucket of paint.

A fun little story. But of course, Personal Filter’s real point of interest is the medium. How does telling a story on Snapchat work? What are the advantages and disadvantages? For one thing, it doesn’t require that the audience go anywhere or set aside any time. You can watch this if you check your phone occasionally through the day. Also, the story unfolds at a much more realistic pace than a play would. The characters update like real humans do and everything happens in real time. It’s a similar situation with location – the characters go to brunch at a real brunch place, the room where the woman is sleeping is probably a real flat, etc.

The setting isn’t quite as straightforwardly realistic as the timeframe – why are they holding their wedding outside Circa? Also, for all the realism in these respects, the plot and characters are all in the same exaggerated, playful tone that’s so common in BATS-adjacent NZ comedies. For all my waffling in the last paragraph, this ain’t realism.

The combined effect of all these properties is something more like seeing cartoon characters having a cartoon adventure in the real world. It doesn’t matter that the venue for the wedding isn’t at all a venue someone would tend to marry at, or that there’s no-one at the wedding apart from whoever’s holding the camera**, or that a marriage of three persons is definitely not possible under New Zealand law. These aren’t real people.

It’s a nice experiment, and I recommend setting up a Snapchat account if you don’t have one already and checking it out next Saturday. I’ll be writing brief reviews of the next three shows, which will be posted to this page as updates.

*With respect to some of our readership who may be unaware of Snapchat: it’s a social media app where messages are sent in the form of pictures or short videos visible only to the followers of the account sending them and only for a limited period of time.

**Although they might have just wanted a really understated wedding.


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