A new employment experience for young people. Èpica i Singular is a new project where a series of young people looking for a job will learn and improve their abilities in a new scenario and in a way that completely differs from the norm.
This new experience, financed by the Catalan Employment Service within the framework of its Youth Guarantee programmes, offers two lines of work for young people under 30.
The first one, which we may call “of employment”, consists in developing a series of professional abilities and competences by co-creating a theatrical project with the rest of participants, La Fura dels Baus and other professionals. This action tries to provide a more attractive and different way to work with young people and will incorporate the learning of audiovisual techniques and construction specialties related to the world of entertainment (vertical work, structure assembly, etc.). This last aspect will be Anigami and BTC’s main area of action. This line of work will also include guidance on job search and contracting processes.
The second one, aimed at young entrepreneurs, offers a series of resources to facilitate the implementation of business and self-employment projects, be it in the creative industry sector, the construction sector, the media sector or other sectors.
The first week is devoted to giving the workshop participants some of the indispensable tools for its development. To begin with, group cohesion exercises are carried out in order to ensure that the students begin to build trust and strengthen ties between them. In addition, master classes in script and creativity are imparted, both focused especially on the theme chosen as inspiration for the workshop’s performances: Transhumanism, or the idea of transforming the human condition with the help of science and technology.
The script master class, imparted by Albert Mauri, aims for the participants to learn to express their ideas; convert thoughts into concepts and make them manageable so they can be developed and put into action. On the other hand, Rafa Montilla and his creativity class intend to enhance the skills that participants already have to strengthen their creative potential: listening, observing, asking questions and accepting errors as part of the process are some of the key elements transmitted to them.
The second week’s guiding thread is the creation of a spot about Transhumanism. Based on some transhuman product ideas developed during the previous week’s script lessons, the participants, divided into working groups, receive audiovisual language and video editing classes taught by Sara López. The goal is to polish the script, make a storyboard, develop a production plan, shoot all the necessary material for the spot and edit it throughout the week.
This week also features a Production master class taught by Nadala Fernández and a Self-Portrait master class taught by Lisa Pram. In the first one, the students learn everything being a producer involves: exhaustive knowledge of the project in which they work, applying creativity to problem solving and being able to manage ideas, budgets, teams and timelines. With Lisa Pram, self-identification skills are worked on: questioning and reflecting on what defines us and what we want to convey, as well as being aware of the weight of the other’s gaze, which can interfere with the idea of oneself.
The key points of the third week are the Illumination and Sound master classes; the time is coming to start preparing the final performance and it is essential that the participants become familiar with the technical part of the stage creation so that they have all the elements to do so. Jaime Llerins, in his Lighting class, demonstrates to the students how to elaborate the lighting design of a scene based on its dramatic needs, besides talking about the type of equipment he usually works with and how to handle it. Marc Sardá, on the other hand, gives the participants the theoretical keys of sound design and elaborates with them a small performance based eminently on the auditory part.
To conclude the week, the Transhumanism spots made during the previous days are collectively viewed and reviewed in order to further delineate the ideas on visual storytelling and clarity of concepts worked on in the audiovisual classes.
The fourth week marks the beginning of the creative work focused on Èpica i Singular 2.0’s first show. The participants are divided into work teams and, through brainstormings and actions, begin to outline the themes and scenes that will define their collective performance on Transhumanism.
In addition, the last master classes of the first segment of the course are carried out. This week’s guests are Anigami, a vertical work company that initiates participants in the rigging world (including a theoretical section on materials and safety) and David Casacuberta, from UAB’s Philosophy Department, who teaches a class entirely dedicated to Transhumanism in order to give the students all the theoretical tools they need to develop their performance.
The fifth week is devoted entirely to the creation of the performance on Transhumanism that will mark the conclusion of the first block of Èpica i Singular 2.0. The work groups formed during the previous week are responsible for developing the scenes that will form the show in its entirety, from the first plot sketches to its final execution.
The workshop participants decide that the performance will be, above all, about the technological singularity. According to this hypothesis, the progress of robots and artificial intelligences could reach a point where machines themselves would be able to self-improve recursively to the extreme that they would dispense with human action for their development, and could even revolt against their own creators. In this way, they create scenes about defective robot that decide to revolt, scientists who create failed cyborgs, machines that create humans… There’s only a week left for the performance and there’s a lot of work to do.
Week six corresponds to the final stretch of Èpica i Singular 2.0’s final block before its first performance before an audience. Thus, the scenes created during the previous week are polished and all the technical aspects of the performance are worked on: lighting, sound, scenery, costumes, props… Throughout the process, of course, the participants do as many rehearsals as possible, first by groups and then globally, in addition to technical test during the last days before the final performance. The dress rehearsal with public will take place on Thursday and the premiere of the show on Friday, so there is no time to waste.
The performance opens by welcoming members of the public as investors of a prototype in development: a chip that eliminates pain, suffering and any other emotion. A demonstration begins: two scientists implant the chip to a test subject and proceed to insult and hit her, without any reaction on her part. The experiment will soon fail: a laboratory assistant, alarmed by the cruelty he is witnessing, will free all subjects of experiments, who will reveal against the scientists.
Next, the public will witness a robotics convention where an inventor presents Sari, a revolutionary domestic artificial intelligence capable of doing all kinds of household tasks. When Sari does not seem to work and limits itself to dane before the audience, they boo the inventor, who promises to avenge her humiliation. He retires to build another robot, much more violent, which will attack members of the public and even its own creator until it runs out of battery.
The next scene is located in a clone manufacturing plant: through a washing, drying and activation process, the clones go through a quality control. “Since the year 2089 we have had only 98% defective subjects,” the public is told. It does not take long to verify that data: of the two tested subjects, one is defective. The first task of the clone that has passed the quality control will be to withdraw its partner.
Then we move on to a laboratory dedicated to researching human-plant hybrids. Through the injection of chlorophyll and exposure to sunlight, scientists get their subjects to photosynthesize and even be able to regenerate limbs. This seemingly harmless experiment takes a turn when laboratory managers capture people against their will in order to experiment with them. Finally, the plant-beings manage to communicate with each other, reveal themselves against their oppressors and escape the facility.
The audience enters a new lab, in this case working to create the Luminous Woman. Through experiments with bioluminescence, they have managed to create a skin that shines in the dark. Once the demonstration is over, the audience is asked to leave the room, which will be impossible because of an altercation in the laboratory: it is discovered that the luminous woman was forcibly retained and other subjects are among the public. Those in charge of the laboratory will keep anyone who tries to escape and, finally, ask the public to leave the room accompanied by projections with the message “Transhumanism, yes or no?”.
The final scene of the performance takes place in a cyberpunk dump: a couple of scrap dealers are in charge of guiding the audience, who witnesses a scene full of futuristic waste while their guides carry a huge box from one end of the room to the other. When the time comes, it is revealed there was a person inside the box: this time the machines have managed to build a human being.
During Èpica i Singular 2.0’s central block, participants receive training in Occupational Risk Prevention with BTC and in Operation of Forklift Trucks, Operation of Platform Lifting, Vertical Work and Assembly of Structures with Anigami. These classes, which combine theoretical and practical knowledge, involve obtaining official degrees in the studied fields; this represents a fundamental part of the accompaniment and support the workshop offers its participants in relation to developing competences and obtaining skills for the working world. In addition, the acquired knowledge will be useful for the last part of the workshop, where a final performance will be developed making use of everything learned in recent months.
The third block of the workshop begins with the photographer Lisa Pram, who returns to Èpica i Singular 2.0 to teach a second Master Class about photographic self-portrait: the participants should reflect on the changes they have experienced on a personal level during the last months to elaborate a portrait concept. In addition, on this occasion they are asked to relate their work with Transhumanism in order to delve into the subject matter of their performance. They have four days to design, carry out, edit and present their self-portrait.
Meanwhile, the research work aimed at the final presentation begins. The participants are divided into working groups, each of which will be responsible for a performance scene, and they are assigned themes that they should explore before starting the script:
-Immortality + Clones
-Singularity + Cyborgs
-Artificial Intelligence + Robots
-Biogenetics + Avatars
The guest professional during week 15 is Coral Martínez, specialist in product design, who guides the participants in a Master Class from the idea to the execution of a product. The combination of functionality with aesthetics, the choice of the right material and the communicative intention of the design are some of the points discussed in her class. The students should take all of this into account to develop their own products, which they will manufacture with the intention of using them in the scenes they’re preparing for the final performance. To do so, they visit FabLab Badalona, a digital manufacturing space equipped with 3D printing technology, laser engraving and 3D scanning, among others. At the end of the week and with the finished products, participants must present them to the class as if it were a professional product presentation.
Week 16 corresponds to the Master Classes of the R + D department of Mugaritz, specialists in research, experimentation and gastronomic development. Working with gelatins, silicone molds, bubbles and other unconventional materials, participants learn to deal with new textures and develop prototypes that will be used in their final presentation on Transhumanism. As the performance takes shape, the script feeds on the knowledge acquired in collaboration with the invited experts. Opening night approaches and they must begin to define actions with all the generated material.
Since the creative work directed through the final performance is approaching its most intensive phase, it is essential for the participants to deepen their knowledge about some technical aspects of the stage work. Even though they learned the basics during the first part of the course, this time around the classes focus on the concepts that will be necessary in order to develop their final show. Thus, students receive classes on production, sound, video, projection and execution of the Kalliope app.
At the same time that the scenographic installation for the final performance begins, Èpica i Singular 2.0’s participants complement one of the last weeks of the workshop with two field trips outside the Foundation. On the one hand they visit The Bdn Climb, a rockodrom located in Badalona the owners of which give them a speech about some of the professional opportunities their training in vertical work can offer. They also visit the installations of Banzai Studio, a set where they become familiar with the filming processes in areas such as advertising, music videos or television.
During Èpica i Singular 2.0’s penultimate week, participants must put all their energies into preparing their final show. The script is outlined, actions are defined and scenographies are set up in order to ensure the success of their performance about Transhumanism, the central theme in this edition of the workshop.
In addition, this week corresponds to the last visits of experts who give talks to the students about the professional environment in the world of television, cinema and communication. The invited experts are Josep Viñeta from Badalona Comunicació, who informs them about news coverage processes and the importance of transmedia in the current audiovisual panorama; Iván Armesto from Personal 7 Audiovisual, who introduces them to the world of hiring extras for film projects and, finally, David Fernández from Overstone 57, specialist in design and construction of large interior sets and architectures.
The final stretch corresponds to the last three days of preparations before the dress rehearsal and the final show before an audience of Èpica i Singular 2.0. With a final script, the defined actions and fully assembled scenographies, workshop participants must outline all aspects of their performance as much as possible and spend their last days doing rehearsals and technical meetings with the help of the Èpica Foundation team.
Final performance attendees wait at the entrance of the Èpica Foundation, where they receive a video notice from the mayor of the city in which the performance is framed. According to the governor, cyborgs that are hidden among ordinary citizens are the enemy: they must be found, persecuted and neutralized. The public is soon taken to an Anonymous Cyborgs meeting where they will witness the stories of three metahumans: a deaf dj with ears all over her body, a cook with a skin regeneration mask, a supermodel addicted to body transplantation and a elite athlete with an external spine. The meeting is intercepted when police break in to stop the cyborgs.
Next, attendees are welcome to a demonstration by Nula Tiempos, a company that offers beauty treatments to the elite population. In a society where cell regeneration has reached such an extreme that it is possible to not age or die, high society has reached a level of “purity” which allows them to eat their own face masks after using them and even consume their own descendants to avoid overpopulation. An act entitled “The tedium of immortality” that ends when a hacker bombards Nula Tiempos with images of ugly and disfigured people, causing a massive escape from the enclosure.
After leaving Nula Tiempos, the public is introduced to a maze: they are promised that if they pass all the tests that are presented to them and reach the end of the tour, they will get the secret of life and death. The labyrinth is a space that invites reflection and interaction on the issue of cloning (Who is the original individual? Does immortality imply suicide? Should clones have the same rights as us?) through different scenes: a clone creation workshop, a massive birth of the audience, a christening ceremony, a young woman locked in a mirror room, a recreation of the birth of Adam and Eve and, finally, a young man surrounded by molds of his own face who eats himself and invites audience members to do the same. They are ready to move to the other side.
The final act takes place in a clandestine party to celebrate the first death for hundreds of years. Actors, assistants and clones participate in a ritual around the corpse shouting the mantra “Vita mors est” (life is death, only with the possibility of death can we really appreciate what it means to be alive) to end up witnessing how the performers attack their own clones until everyone ceases to exist.