Swim Pony, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Toasterlab, and Michael Kiley
September 24-October 4
Flexible Run Time
This immersive augmented reality audio performance presents ten original audio narratives, each connected to paths within the Philadelphia region’s expansive Circuit Trails network. Accessed via a mobile app, listeners will hear original dramas while walking each route. Written by local authors in collaboration with Swim Pony and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC), these stories center experiences that connect with communities traditionally underserved by environmental programming. Featuring stories by afaq, ari, Jacob Camacho, Eppchez!, donia salem harhoor, Carmen Maria Machado, Erin T. McMillon, Li Sumpter, Denise Valentine, and Jacob Winterstein.
Audiences will experience these intimate journeys through the TrailOff app, developed by Toasterlab, which uses GPS triggering to link audio to specific geography as users walk the mapped routes. Phone sensors will also prompt subtle variations dependent on weather and time of day, tailoring each experience. The stories have been created uniquely for each trail site with scenes narrated by beloved local performers and underscored with music and atmospheric sound design crafted by Michael Kiley. After each walk, additional content is available in-app including podcast-style interviews with writers and points of environmental and historic interest on the trail.
Note: Scripts are available upon request to firstname.lastname@example.org. Trails typically run between 1 to 3 miles in length, and interested audience members can find more information on trail terrain, difficulty, accessibility and total length in the TrailOff app. Sign up to be the among the first to download the app at www.trailoff.com.
The app is now live for iOS devices, best for iPhones 6SE and more recent versions. An older device may not be compatible with the app. For the best app scrolling experience, please ensure screen text is set to the default size in your phone. To adjust this, go to the Settings app, find “Display & Brightness” and then click into “Text Size” to choose the middle (default) setting. Once you download the story, we recommend you switch to Airplane Mode while you walk.
Android devices should be soon able to access the app as well.
An app is super different than a play! Unlike a performance that “locks” on opening night, this is a dynamic and changing experience that app users will be a part of. Don’t be afraid to let us know if you find something unexpected on a trail, if directions need to change because of flooding or if you notice COVID-related impacts with hours of operation at a site, we want to hear from you and crowd source this data! Read more in Swim Pony’s user launch guide!
Contact Swim Pony and the TrailOff team directly through social channels @swimponypa or @trailoff_app, emailing email@example.com, or using the hashtag #trailoff. Following your experiences with the app, feel free to fill out the user experience survey here! The app will remain live beyond the 2020 Fringe Festival and into 2021.
Free to Participate
Happy Hour on the Fringe
On this episode, artistic producer Katy Dammers speaks with Adrienne Mackey, founder and artistic director of Swim Pony, as well as Lizzie Hessek, a Program Manager of Trails and Recreation at the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. Adrienne and Lizzie discuss how Swim Pony and the PEC came together to collaborate alongside Toaster Lab and Michael Kiley to create the unique project that is TrailOff. In this conversation, Lizzie and Adrienne discuss how their project grapples with environmental injustice by centering experiences that connect with communities traditionally underserved by environmental programming.
About the Artists
Swim Pony was founded in 2009 with a commitment to explore the potential of performance and play by creating live experiences that defy tradition and invite audiences to become curious, critical thinkers in the world. The company’s original works include SURVIVE!, a 20,000 sq ft choose-your-own-adventure installation exploring how humanity understands the universe and their place within it; The Giant Squid, a “crypto-zoology-horror-comedy” performed in science lecture halls across Philadelphia; and The Ballad of Joe Hill, the story of
a radical labor unionist presented at the Eastern State Penitentiary by FringeArts. Swim Pony has also become a leader in works merging theater and game design. In May 2017 Swim Pony launched The End – a month-long ARG and immersive theater work played using text message and facilitating audiences to explore their own mortality. The company also created War of the Worlds: Philadelphia a prototype for a citywide playable mobile app with Drexel’s Entrepreneurial Game Studio. Swim Pony has also headed up Cross Pollination, a research program in which 32 artists took part in documented interdisciplinary collaborations and Schuylkill Saved, an ecological table-top role-play for Fairmount Water Works. It’s currently developing Water Logged!, a wildlife card game for the Alliance for Watershed Education that will be playable at AWE’s 23 sites across three states and ramping up for Season 2 of TrailOff.
Since 1970, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) has been a central figure in the environmental and conservation discussion in Pennsylvania — and we will continue to play that role. Every day, PEC manages challenges facing Pennsylvania’s water, land, and air resources whether from past activities, current practices, or potential future impacts. PEC’s mission is to protect and restore the natural and built environments through innovation, collaboration, education and advocacy. PEC believes in the value of partnerships with the private sector, government, communities and individuals to improve the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians. PEC seeks to develop new policies, programs and projects that demonstrate unique, but replicable approaches to solving environmental problems using market-based and other non-partisan, science- driven solutions. PEC promotes the understanding of environmental issues by the public, communities, organizations, public officials and other decision-makers by making unbiased and understandable information available on problems and
solutions. PEC is a catalyst for legislative, regulatory and policy change by public and private decision-makers to advance solutions that are in the best environmental and economic interests of the Commonwealth.
Toasterlab creates place-based extended reality experiences that promote deeper engagement with history, community, and imagination. Toasterlab combines expertise in storytelling, theatrical and media production, and the development of new technology to produce both original work and partnerships. Our work ranges from live site-specific live performance to bespoke mobile applications and VR films, and often combines a variety of approaches to collapse time and space for the delivery of impactful narratives. From the largest festivals to community youth workshops, we build accessible ways to understand places in whole new ways. Toasterlab is Ian Garrett, Justine Garrett, and Andrew Sempere. Its Mixed Reality Performance Atelier is generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts.
Michael Kiley is a sound designer, composer, performer, and educator working in theatre, dance and public installation. His original works include Close Music for Bodies (FringeArts Festival 2017), an immersive, participatory voice piece based in his practice of Personal Resonance. He is also the creator of three geo-locational soundwalk applications for smartphone; The Empty Air, Animina, and Grindstone Devotional. Currently, he is working with Swim Pony Arts on TrailOff, a series of ten geo-locational pieces for ten nature trails throughout the Philadelphia region (premieres summer 2020). Past collaborators include The Wilma Theatre, Faye Driscoll, The Arden Theatre, luciana achugar, Nichole Canuso Dance Company, The Play Company, Theatre Exile, and many more. He is a four time nominee for The Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, and two time winner for Outstanding Sound Design. His work has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, The Independence Foundation, The Wyncote Foundation, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The American Composers Forum, and Mural Arts.
Check out the Digital Toolkit for TrailOff for sources of inspiration to the Swim Pony and PEC team in the making of this piece.
Click the event below for more information about the series of Artist Talks associated with TrailOff.
TrailOff was created with support from The William Penn Foundation, The Philadelphia Cultural Foundation, The Barra Foundation, and The Network of Ensemble Theatres in addition to support in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
Festival Star Producers: Mark & Tobey Dichter
Festival Producer: Carol Beam
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