THESIS STATEMENT: How can I create an innovative and interactive experience/exhibit that tells a piece of the story of Women in Comedy through research, development, and prototyping the interactions?
The story of women in comedy as outlined in my design plan for the Museum of Funny Ladies is a rich, living history, that is ripe for being told in innovative and interactive way that brings its audience into the history itself. My thesis will take an excerpt from this museum and act as a proof of concept for the large-scale plan.
My thesis project focuses on the experiences of the female comedy writers who broke boundaries during the women’s lib movement and paved the way for women writers today. This project will focus specifically on the story of Sybil Adelman Sage, one of the first women comedy writers to pioneer this industry for future lady tv writers. Through research, content gathering, interviews and design, I plan to prototype 1-2 interactions to tell this story.
Why This, Why Now?
As the 60s and 70s unfolded, the Women’s Lib movement grew with a force, which led to a pivotal point in the history of women and comedy, a moment when the roles of female comedians converged – they were now not only performing their content, but creating it as well. Between the struggle to be taken seriously and the fight against being taken advantage of, these women were up against the challenge of an environment where being outspoken was out of the question, and where they had to consciously adjust her behavior and language to play the role they needed to, to get their work and point across. These women were doing more than just writing to get her scripts to air, they were pioneers fighting their way to success.
As a comedian myself, the story of women comedy is very close to my heart. These women pioneers paved this path for me and all women to be able to perform on stage and behind the scenes. And although women comedians have made huge strides, not much has changed in the writers room since the 1970s. This project aims to shed light on this piece of the greater history of women in comedy, in order to enlighten the world and perhaps add to this path of progress that these women comedy pioneers started down so many decades ago.
Comedians and aspiring comedians
Fathers and daughters
For those who want to be reminded to never to give up
Women’s studies scholars and students
For those who have found laughter from women entertainers and writers at any point
Those interested in women’s lib and those who could be benefit from being enlightened by it
The Process: Narrowing Down Focus
From the design plan for the Museum of Funny Ladies, I narrowed down the focus step-by-step, which led me to this story.
Gathering Content & Artifacts
I am working with Sybil Adelman Sage, a comedy writing pioneer who went from being Carl Reiner’s secretary to having a decades long career in writing comedy that has shaped the world.
Sybil has been kind enough to let me share her story, scripts, photos and awards. I was able to interview Sybil last week which led to over an hour of interview footage.
Here are a few excerpts from the collected archives:
I have also begun to collect artifacts for prototyping the interaction(s):
Here is a comprehensive list of the content for this project including the breakdown of the interview:
Story & Experience Arcs
The story arc follows the effort and work on the writer, to the challenge or the heart of the story, and ends with the clips, the visual representation of their success.
User Flow & Experience
General Concept: As the user interacts with the scripts, the environment comes to life with the story.
The visitor enters the scene and picks up a script. They dial the number on the script and suddenly the paper in the typewriter becomes illuminated by projection. The caption for this story is typed out (again through projection) and the clicking of the typewriter can be heard on the phone. The caption sets up the theme for this script’s experience that is to follow. The caption’s completion is followed by the story behind the script, narrated by Sybil. As the story pours out of the phone, images and items on the wall light up as they are unveiled in the narration. Once the narration ends, the scene returns to its base set-up and the visitor can turn the dial on the television to find the clip associated with the script they just experienced.
To see an animated user flow prototype go to –> https://vimeo.com/206004354 (password: womencomedy)
Scenic Design: The scene will be a representation of Sybil’s desks and offices during the early part of her career. From a blue Selectric typewriter and ambient music, to the essence of cigar smoke and vintage magazines in the space, the visitor will be transported to her workspace in the 1970s.
NOTE: This is the current design concept that I will prototype from. I still need to work on a way to integrate the TV and show clips in a way that ties the story together as well has how user’s will interact with the TV versus the phone. I also need to work on the scenic design and the details of the set.
- Categorize stories with scripts
- Organize artifacts and content with each story
- Interview Sybil one final time to fill in blanks
- Digitize more scripts
- Design the environment
- Work on the integration of the TV/Clips Prototype
- Print images for prototype
- PROTOTYPE the phone interaction
- Other interviews
- More historical Research
- Research on Museum Design