If You Can Get to Buffalo, the latest offering by Station North theater company The Acme Corporation, premieres tonight (more info here), and takes as its subject the weird world of early Internet culture: The world’s first social network premiered in 1993 on the newly minted World Wide Web as a virtual mansion comprised entirely of text. It was called LambdaMOO. If You Can Get to Buffalo explores the rise and fall of this new utopia and the attempt of its creators to deal with the sinister puppet master that brought it crashing down during a wild party of virtual revelry.
Baltimore Fishbowl spoke with New York playwright Trish Harnetiaux about 1990s cyberculture, Baltimore’s theater scene, and what a play can do that television can’t:
The play is based on a 1993 Village Voice article about the first reported cyber rape. How did you first come across the article, and what about it made you think the subject matter could be transformed into a piece of theater?
Truth is I totally forget how I came across the article but I do know I was interested in the early days of the Internet – the language people used when it was new, the impact of never-before-encountered social situations, and the opportunity it offered to individuals. Something that we’re continually aware of is that we essentially know how the story of the Internet “ends,” now that it’s 20 years after the incident we’re exploring – and that’s definitely had an impact on how we’re telling it.