Image from Bernd Helfert

"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts"
As You Like It Act II, Scene VII

"The play's the thing
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King."
Hamlet Act II, scene II

   — William Shakespeare, Old Earth playwright, 4th century BT

Performance has aspects of narrative, music, dance, poetry, and visual art. It may take place live and direct on a stage or arena or in some much less formal venue such as a home or street or clearing, or may be transmitted through such media as 2d films and 3d holograms, low grade u-fog, full-sensory u-fog such as on eidolon stage, or in virch. The audience may be almost entirely receptive, or may be called upon to take part and shape events in some major or minor way. The performance itself might be as short as a recitation or tumbling act spanning seconds or it might span hours, days, or even years of subjective time. The common elements to all performances are one or more sophont-level performers, who guide the experience, and an audience. The performers are paid with attention (itself a valuable commodity) and often in other ways as well such as social regard, gifts, or money.

Some presapient life forms may be said to engage in performances, but the first Terragens to engage in true performance were humans: actors, puppeteers, acrobats and jugglers, musicians, and the like all vied for the attention of their tribes, and later cities, or nations, in performances that grew increasingly complex all through the Agricultural Age; some of the great theatrical performances of classical Europe, China, or India are remembered and re-created even today, though in their time actors and performers were sometimes held in low social regard. In the Industrial Age, recorded performances, beginning with 2d films, became an important part of performance, and the most successful performers were often admired or reviled by millions or billions of people. Later, during the Information Age, new communications technology brought a return of more interactive forms of performance between actors and audiences who might be separated by distances of tens or thousands of kilometres. The repertoire of Terragen performance has been further enriched since with the genesis of new Terragen clades, and by contact with xenosophont cultures, particularly the complex and ancient traditions of the To'ul'h.

Performances of all kinds remain an important part of life for almost any Terragen today, though some forms, such as Aruan sand-dancing or Eudoran faceplays have little appeal outside of their own clade and culture. Some aspects of performance have important applications in memetics; the actor or playwright who influences public opinion through satirical or tragic or inspirational performances is as old as civilization itself. For instance it is now well understood through forensic cliology that certain now-forgotten transapients, by subtly inspiring key virchdrama creators in the late Solsys Dark Ages to build on otherwise forgotten 1st century AT dramas, laid important memetic groundwork for the First Federation.

"I wonder if we could contrive . . . some magnificent myth that would in itself carry conviction to our whole community."
The Republic, Book 5
   — Plato, Old Earth philosopher, 24th century BT

  • Artists of Gleia  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Alife designer collective at Merrion Apogee (NoCoZo), Jensan (Sophic League) and Outpost 5478 (TRHN) that since the 5800's have designed specialized clades of alife to enhance the universe. The Artists were in 7478 declared a honorary state in the MPA.
  • Automorphism  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    "Living as art"; a form of art where self-transformation and living itself is the medium.
  • bAdmod  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Antihero low grade adventure sim interactive and 3d created by the SI:2 hyperturing Seroz 12 (Radwin-Ho Orbital Band, Dorminy Iv, NoCoZo) in 8412 "to amuse my humans".
  • Cliff Dancing  - Text by Todd Drashner
    Ancient art form combining elements of dance, acrobatics, and rock climbing.
  • Eryture - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Home to the most populous and well-known Colbiörnsens - the Skinplayers of Eryture, who have extended their skin-art into the design of musical or other artistic instruments as part of their anatomy.
  • Flaming Baryons, The  - Text by Thorbørn Steen
    A band of extreme performers from Corona.
  • Intellect Bonsai  - Text by John B
    In some of the technophilic clades derived from or influenced by historical and/or mythical Japanese pre-computational earth, sophonts have developed the artform of intellect bonsai. There are two main forms, one practiced primarily amongst some transapient blights, the other often by more main-baseline-stream cultures.
  • Mahamaad Yubeen's Pre-T Cuisines  - Text by Kirran Lochhead Strang
    A wildly popular semi-interactive virch series in the 1300's AT, detailing the most popular dishes of the Interplanetary Age over the course of thousands of episodes.
  • Perceptions Shows  - Text by John B; additions by Stephen Inniss
    'Perceptions' is the common name for a type of reality show usually shown on grey or black-legality stations.
  • Secretion Punk - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Punk performance art based on bodily secretions. Always in fashion with low SI:<1 bionts (and even a few vecs!) somewhere in the galaxy, but inevitably dies out when the shock value fades.
  • Secrets Inscribed in Caustics  - Text by Liam Jones
    Secrets Inscribed in Caustics is a largely abstract environment designed to accommodate many alien mindform types
  • Tragedy - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    [1] A literary or multimedia work with an unhappy outcome, often with an implicit or explicit moral lesson attached.
    [2] An unfortunate event in the real world with an unhappy outcome, often disastrous or involving loss of life.
  • Wild Frontier - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The romanticised and mythologized notion of the frontier, whether the outer solar system of the Solsys Era or the Outer Volumes and the Periphery today, as an exciting and lawless place. See also The Wilds.
  • Wild West  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev; amended by Stephen Inniss
    From American culture, depicting the western frontiers of that nation in the 19th century CE (1st century BT). The romanticized image of lawlessness and heroism on the frontier. Eventually displaced and superseded in the popular imagination by the by the equally romanticized concepts of the High Frontier or Wild Frontier.
  • Wup  - Text by Orion's Arm Editors
    A loosely-defined disruptive cultural movement centered around an iridescent, blue-colored goo.
Related Topics
Development Notes
Text by Stephen Inniss

Initially published on 17 July 2010.

Additional Information