Our 2018/19 show User Not Found marked our first steps exploring the uses of digital technology in immersive theatre-making. We were delighted to continue this in an R & D, funded by Innovate UK, into the potential of AR & VR technology within theatre-making. We continue to make use of these technologies in new projects. Read more below.
In 2018 we opened our show User Not Found: a project which fused digital technology, immersive storytelling & site-specific performance. For this show, we wanted to make our intimate relationship with our mobile devices, a key part of the storytelling. To achieve this result, we worked closely with creative technologists Marmelo and through a research project funded by the AHRC on ‘Social Media Technologies as Immersive Performance’, which was conducted in close partnership with academics at the Dept. of Film & Theatre at Reading University. These collaborations enabled us to develop a bespoke app which throughout the show, mimics all the apps used in the story, such as Spotify or Facebook.
This first collaboration with Marmelo and in-depth exploration of using new technologies in our work, opened up a whole new creative world for us. We were keen to continue developing our digital capacity & collaboration with Marmelo, to test and explore VR & AR in Virtual Sites for Site Specific Theatre.
We were then successful in a joint bid with Marmelo to Innovate UK’s Audiences of the Future fund in 2019, to test and explore Virtual Sites for Site Specific Theatre. We identified that there are very few effective options available, to turn successful site specific or immersive performances into a digital experience following a live production.
Together with Marmelo we worked on an R&D to test ways of transforming live theatre shows into digital downloads, which also allowed for integrated interactive technologies to boost immersion. We wanted to create a space for hybrids: podcasts with animation, video with binaural narration and immersive performance that harnesses the VR powers of the modern smartphone, to transport an audience at home into the performance space. During the R&D we focused on our 2012 show I Do, an immersive jigsaw puzzle style experience inviting the audience to be a fly on the wall across 6 hotel rooms, as a test case. We experimented with different technological devices to bring the audiences into the space across four phases: initial research, 360 video only using VR, AR animation and finally a mixed mode (360 video with transparency incorporated into the scene).
We are excited to continue our experimentation within the digital sphere and to explore new ways of engaging with audiences through the digital space. Our video podcast based on the live show of User Not Found, has enabled us to continue moving forward with this and to connect with a broader audience through the digital sphere.
This R&D was funded by Innovate UK’s Audiences of the Future fund.