In a time when full immersion is the key to any good entertainment experience Mardi-Ellen Hill has managed to create a multi media-universe that allows the participant to be drawn into a world of her creation through any number of doors. Choose your favorite: book, game, music, and let the hidden mystery that is the MEND™ Universe unfold.
I got a chance to chat with creator Mardi-Ellen Hill who could explain this multi-level, multi media project far better than I ever could . . .
Tell us about your project.
THE SPELL OF VAUGIRARD is a five book series that unfolds a new idea in books, games and film/television. It is a semi-autobiographical story — a narrative about a dynasty who once reigned with their own personal cache of knowledge and power.
The Barringtons were known as the life of every party. At the dawn of the 21st century,we find the characters entrenched in a one-upmanship duel unfolding on the global stage. The dynasty is about to become extinct; outdone by their own hand and inventions. Their human forms survive due to a musical familial connection to the earth; embedded in a hidden map that protagonist, Lily Barrington, discovers in the nick of time. The map shows their origins on earth and the dynasty’s importance to our future of learning and progress.
First, let me say it is very rewarding for my work to be included in such a fine site– especially a live theatre site. My work, THE SPELL OF VAUGIRARD began as live stage-play — a New American Work for the stage, it was funded twice by the NEA in that category. As an American women, I was proud to have contributed to works created in this era. I wanted the work to move forward – to be seen and heard by larger audiences, not be solely accessible to an audience where the work might have a premiere and a few showings! The futurist I am, I took the initial support opportunity to develop a totally new model– a platform connected by the tracks of my original music CD. The CD sets the unfolding clockwork scheme of the play. The stage is the arena for the reveal of a new invention called MEND™- musical encode decode. The floor of the stage itself recreates a hidden map, a gps pattern that brings a city scheme to life.
Six sections comprise the original play. During the development phase of the late 90s,four of the six sections were presented and reviewed. By the new millennium Hollywood came calling. I sent them my original music CD. The music unfolds the force of action driving the narrative and the characters forward and uncovering a hidden matrix– place by place, time period by time period — each place of “origin” is linked to a subset of other places and paths around the world. All of the paths connect directly back to a main story line unfolding on a live stage in NYC. That stage is where the dynasty Matriarch is about to transfer her power and directly aim her targeting message to many involved in a cover up that has haunted the dynasty for eons. One person, the Matriarch’s daughter-in-law, the protagonist has been left out of the family fold. As our guide, Lily Barrington receives the Matriarch’s message via a simulcast– and is forced to take the huge risk to out the family players — I don’t want to give away the whole thing!
The play, an ARCADIA meets DAVINCI CODE meets LOST went through many transformations. In Hollywood it turned into an epic- book bible from which several books and scripts were culled. I then spent a several years developing the web and blog sites – so people could become acquainted with this new idea.
What makes the prequel book THE SKELETON SCORE timely/ accessible is the way we are introduced to the characters and challenged along with Lily Barrington to unlock a prophesy cryptogram that allows readers,players and attendees to take part in the unfolding thriller drama and build their own MEND™ interface.
Besides the book, I use on-line features to bring in audiences on many different levels. The on stage auditorium recreates a playing field of a town’s original genome, where the music theme heard in the 21st century harkens back to a chilling event and a murder in the middle ages. The audience members become witnesses to a murder about to happen again — they become an integral part of the evidence and the scheme– traveling along with the dynasty members who are in a fight over the new invention. The dynasty conflict reveals a centuries old estate fight about to render a gifted and prolific dynasty broke, and stuck in limbo unless the audience can intervene.
How did this incredible idea come to you?
I began writing this story when I was fourteen. The drama of science and how things and human beings worked was always on my mind. Add to that a very dramatic family background, one that a child could only make sense of by using music to plot out and store her family’s memories. The book’s opening Soliloquy, gives a feel for a lost familial voice that re-emerges again and again; my way of presenting the driving nature of the human spirit and how human progress is made.
What are the things that audiences will find most appealing about stepping into this universe?
The work is filled with clues and interactive avenues that are built into the body of the narrative. The reader/user/attendee will have lots of opportunity to build their own personal tool kit and grow the new invention, MEND™– musical encode decode at their own speed and level of comfort. There is a Fashion Arcade, a Village Square, a Museum, a Geodesic radome and host of other mobile spots of learning and entertainment that will be downloadable on any mobile technology.
Who have been your greatest influences in creating this work?
I was greatly influenced by great writers, thinkers, performers, as diverse as Ray Kurzweil to Herman Melville, to Glenn Gould. In my lifetime, the well known soprano Phyllis Curtin has made an enormous impact on me. Her voice, which I first heard at 19 ignited the whole room and every one in it, in one flash of immense power. I walked in one person, and walked out transformed. I have dedicated the role of Rose Barrington to her. And my father, who’s love and knowledge of of opera, civil rights, ip rights, strategy in war, made a lasting impact on my young life.
What are the next steps for you – both with your project as well as with your personal goals?
I have built this model, and with wonderful people. I am in the process of changing my role from company head- creator to becoming consultant. There are many other things I want to do, including writing my own memoir, speaking on the global trail and working on new projects of others!
I hope to find the right launching pad, production studio, partner- home asap! The book series has been requested by an agent. Publication would catapult the story into action.
And finally – where can our readers go to continue to follow your progress?
To follow our progress, please go to: www.menduniversebuzz.wordpress.com. To contact me directly, reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you so much, Ms. Hill, for bringing us into your universe. I encourage THM readers to check out the MEND™ Universe and get lost in the wonderful creative labyrinths that await you!