SHAKESPEARE IN THE DIGITAL AGE: A GLIMPSE INTO THE FUTURE OF LIVE PERFORMANCE
By Steve Cooke
Theatre, music and ground-breaking technology combine in Dream, an exhilarating glimpse into the future of live performance inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Created by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in collaboration with Manchester International Festival (MIF) Marshmallow Laser Feast (MLF) and Philharmonia Orchestra, Dream is the culmination of a major research project called Audience of the Future which helped develop Skepta’s mixed-reality rave for MIF19, DYSTOPIA987.
Gabrielle Jenks, Digital Director at Manchester International Festival said:
“Audience of the Future has been an invaluable space for world-leading organisations to consider the future of virtual production and understand the opportunities and challenges of working with real-time technologies. From DYSTOPIA987, Skepta’s extraordinary mixed-reality experience created for MIF19, to Dream, the learnings from these ambitious and collective approaches to live performance will help us imagine new boundary-pushing ways to present work in The Factory, MIF’s future home being built in the heart of Manchester.”
The live performance is set in a virtual midsummer forest lit by the glimmer of fireflies. Audiences are invited to explore the forest, meet the characters, Puck, Cobweb, Mustardseed, Peaseblossom and Moth, and take an extraordinary journey into the eye of a cataclysmic storm. Together they must regrow the forest before the dawn.
Created during the pandemic whilst venues remain closed, Dream uses real-time motion-capture technology to allow audiences to directly influence the live performance from wherever they are in the world. Audiences will experience a new performance environment easily accessed on their mobile, desktop or tablet via the Dream.org website. Performers will react and interact with the online audience as a dynamic soundtrack adapts to the narrative in real time.
The 50-minute online event will be a shared experience between remote audience members and the seven actors. Audiences can choose to buy an ‘Audience Plus’ ticket for £10 to take part and directly influence the world of the actors or book a regular ‘Audience’ ticket to watch the performance for free.
Gregory Doran, RSC Artistic Director said:
“What’s brilliant about Dream is the innovation at play. An audience member sitting at home influencing the live performance from wherever they are – that’s exciting. By bringing together specialists in on-stage live performance with that of gaming and music you see how much they have in common. For instance, the RSC's deep understanding of scripted drama combined with Marshmallow Laser Feast’s innovation in creative tech brings exciting results.”
Performance: Friday 12 March - Saturday 20 March 2021