Literary Arts alums Samantha Gorman ’06, MFA ’10 and Danny Cannizzaro ’06 are the founders of Los Angeles-based Tender Claws , an arts and games studio that has been attracting notice for its interactive games and installations, virtual reality, live performance and digital publishing. Recently, Tender Claws received praise for its new interactive virtual experience, Tempest, in which an actor, slated to play the role of Prospero in a performance of the Shakespeare play which has been shut down because of the coronavirus, guides the audience through an interactive virtual reality “dreamscape” of what the play might have been. The audience participates in the production, taking on the roles of spirits and other characters on Prospero’s “island”. The 40-45 minute show has a cast of 11 actors who are specially trained in Virtual Reality theater, and can accommodate up to 8 participating audience members per performance.
This fall, Tender Claws’ Tempest received the Raindance Film Festival Award for “Best Narrative Experience.” Tender Claws also received the “VR Experience of the Year” award for “The Under Presents,” a multiplayer virtual reality experience divided between a vaudeville stage with a live cast of 18, and a long-form narrative that tells the story of a doomed research vessel; players can follow characters around the ship, and possibly change the outcome of their adventure. Tender Claws was also a finalist for an Emmy this fall for a juried award in the “Innovation in Interactive Programming” category. Such awards are nothing new for Tender Claws, which has received numerous recognitions since its founding in 2014.
According to Gorman, a number of Brown alums and faculty have been part of the Tender Claws team. They include Joe Waechter, MFA ’10 (Playwriting); Janlyn Guo MFA ’10 (Literary Arts); Ian Hatcher MFA ’10 (Literary Arts); Adam Veal MFA ’10 (Literary Arts); Daniel Howe MFA ’07 (Literary Arts); and former professor of Literary Arts, novelist Brian Evenson, now a faculty member at the California Institute of the Arts.