Future Wife is an interactive play with everything: goats, aliens, and spreadsheets

A variety of digital experiences have been created by the pandemic, ranging from Google Forms escape rooms to entire virtual comedy shows. Future Wife: Party In a Spreadsheet is an interactive digital play/upstate barn wedding that I attended last Friday. It takes things to a new level. Playwright Ruth Tang and Sarah Blush co-created the show. It is performed by a group of theater company New Georges collaborators and a cast that includes a variety of games. The show manages to be fun, confusing, and, surprising, even a bit touching. It's basically all that Google Sheets is not.
It is difficult to explain Party in Spreadsheet in a way which makes sense. There are communist goats and alien activists. There are also several themed islands. An anonymous audience pretending to be a variety exotic animals. The official description also contains many ominous threats.

You are invited to a Very Heterosexual wedding. However, we don't have the funds for a real one so we created one using spreadsheets. You should wear comfortable shoes as it is a dance party. You are invited to bring food. It is a terrifying and vast landscape. It is a huge barn full of massive machines. Did I say that? Dont worry. You might be the one who is swaying on lawn to the sound of sharpening knives. You are welcome.

You will receive an email invitation to your wedding. This is where you begin the experience of attending. We gather to celebrate the heterosexual union between Boots and Patsy. The set time was given and I was encouraged by my Google account to log out or open an incognito browser so that I could join the celebrations. Audience members are welcomed and encouraged to explore the meadow and begin editing the sheet.

Blush describes the meadow to tang as a tutorial. Blush explains that the opening page was designed to model behavior. This page introduces the types of interactions that will be used throughout the show. It can be used by any audience member to do things like live text editing and coloring cells, pasting GIFs, and basic improv. Future Wife: Party In a Spreadsheet is possible if you are able to grasp the roleplay that was used at the beginning of the experience.

Things get more bizarre from the meadow. From Boots being a goat to the presence of aliens interrupting the ceremony, the Boots and Patsy wedding doesn't turn out as it should. Future Wife's wide range of settings and locations clearly shows that they are able to cover a variety of topics. Some themes are obvious. For example, the heterosexual rigidity in the wedding industry complex (as Blush calls it) is mirrored by the straight-laced Sheets that is frequently used for work. Google Sheets was perceived by many as a work place or a place where they could do drudgery and tang notes. There are other themes that are not related to goats or wedlock.

Although Sheets may not be the best way to enjoy theater, Party in a Spreadsheet can be described as an adaptation of Tang's original play in a loose sense. However, it was an enjoyable experience that stayed with me. My initial thought was that Sheets editing would be the most fascinating part of this. I was unaware that a Google Doc contained Sheets editing. So, I pretended to be an intelligent worker for an editor. What surprised me the most was the asynchronous interactions.

Blush, Tang, and other actors give the audience lots of digital space, sometimes even whole islands. They coordinate with their cast over Discord to stimulate discussion and improv, with lines from the alien activists trying rescue Boots. This, combined with the anonymity of the experience can lead to candid sharing. You also have magical moments of interaction. Multiple times, I have left an attempt to be funny on one sheet only to return later and find an honest answer or several dumber riffs.

These moments are what truly amaze me. In 2021, honesty, playfulness, and even community in an anonymous shared space are becoming more rare. It would be foolish to expect it. Future Wife does it for an hour.

That feeling of knowing there is so much happening around you and that you have people you can interact with if you want, I believe, is a kind of freedom but also a restriction. Tang explains. That is why I believe that you know. I find the experience of performing the show very enjoyable and kind of like being with people.

Future Wife: Party in the Spreadsheet is currently wrapping up its six-show run. The spreadsheets for previous episodes of Future Wife can be viewed on the ruthtangs website.