Redhand Legacy is transmedia story written as a companion piece to the stage play, Redhand Guitar. Redhand Legacy moves between the physical world and the virtual world inviting audience members to engage individualy and as a community in the story of Dawson Lu, an aspiring young musician who’s struggling to find her own voice and figure out how to make a difference in the world.
Part mystery, part coming of age story, Redhand Legacy begins when Dawson receives an unexpected package – a cigar box left her by her recently deceased grandfather. Inside are clues to some secret past – letters, an audio tape, a newspaper clipping, and a photograph of an unidentified woman from the 1930s standing next to a dusty car with two small children, all her worldly possessions, and a sun-bleached guitar with a red handprint on its face.
Through interactions in the virtual and physical worlds, participants join Dawson as she searches for clues to the woman’s identity and her own, and in doing so, they are invited to consider the role of legacy in their own lives – what they’ve received from the generations before them, what they hope to pass on, and how they’ll choose to write their own story in the present.
Dawson is a character from Redhand Guitar, a project which traces the lives of five generations of musicians across an American century. Starting in the Dustbowl of the 1930s and moving towards a dustbowl of the not-too-distant future, its narrative is designed to be told over multiple platforms, including as a theatre piece. Its characters are linked by desire, ambition, and that redhand guitar.
Each artifact in the cigar box reveals a part of the story and leads to others. Over the course of several days, Dawson and her community, both scripted characters and audience participants, interact with the artifacts and each other to piece together the past and follow its impact on Dawson in the present.
Participants connect with Dawson and each other using everyday technology – email, text messaging, and postings on the Redhand Legacy site. They also meet in the physical world – where Dawson might perform her music at a pop-up concert or lead a social action at a community event – as, absorbing the lessons of the cigar box, she gains confidence in her music and her activism.