intermedial theatre, 2017
co-writer, production dramaturg
About the project
ASMRtist is a play about the relationship between anxiety and sound. It began as exploration of an internet phenomenon known as Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR). ASMR refers to the way that certain stimulations can have a direct effect on the body, triggering pleasant “tingling” sensations and soothing a person who is experiencing stress. Today, YouTube is full of videos of young ASMRtists speaking in gentle tones, running their fingers across smooth glass, popping bubble wrap, opening zippers, crinkling paper, pretending to comb hair. People watch them to ease their stress, calm their anxiety, and ease themselves to sleep. We wanted to explore sensations that could have this effect on an audience as well as sensations that might provoke the opposite reaction, raising anxiety, stress, dread. In this way, the play would pull the audience in two directions.
Created by feminist theatre company Alma Matters productions, I was brought on to help realize their vision and create a script for the show. We developed the script using what we called the “hot potato method,” a simplified version of a surrealist exquisite corpse exercise, which involved passing the script back and forth between co-writer Sarah Marchand and myself and then merging our distinct visions. An elaborate soundscape was created by sound artists Loji, based on imagery from the script.
ASMRtist. By Sarah Marchand. Co-written by Matt Jones. Starring Sarah Marchand, Amanda Cordner, and En Lai Mah. Directed by Chelsea Dab-Hilke. Robert Gill Theatre, Toronto. 3 Feb, 2017. Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse, Toronto, 7-16 Sept. 2017.