DMU helps bring Shakespeare production to life in a virtual forest

All the world’s a stage, wrote Shakespeare – and now a global audience will be able to join actors in a very special immersive performance using the latest technologies.

On Friday 12 March, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) opens its latest production called Dream, in collaboration with Manchester International Festival, Marshmallow Laser Feast and the Philharmonia Orchestra.


And De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) is part of this pioneering project that combines live theatre and gaming technologies to make the audience part of the show.

Audiences around the world will be able to join Puck and the other characters from their mobile phone, tablet or desktop computer, interacting with the cast as the drama unfolds.

DMU’s Institute of Creative Technologies (IOCT) is part of the Audiences of the Future project, a collaboration between arts companies, tech giants and universities to explore the possibilities of live performance.

Building on the technology used in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s groundbreaking 2016 production of The Tempest, the first play to feature live performance capture rendered in Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, Dream brings together live performance, virtual production and gaming technology. 


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People can watch the show free, or for £10 become ‘audience plus’ ticket holders. This means they can take on the role of fireflies, helping to light the forest and interacting using their mouse, trackpad or touchscreen. The actors respond to audience interaction and direction, making each performance unique.

Renowned singer-songwriter Nick Cave will be the narrator, acting as the ‘Voice of the Forest’ in the production.

As part of the Audience of the Future project, Researchers from the IOCT and the Institute of Artificial Intelligence have been using their expertise in VR, XR and AI to develop a number of prototypes that test how emerging and immersive technologies may be used in live performance.  In addition, the IOCT have been developing a series of training for creative practitioners wanting to make work for digital environments, in both motion capture and volumetric capture.


Professor Sophy Smith, Director of the IOCT, said: “Being part of the Audiences of the Future project has been incredibly exciting, and we are delighted to have been part of such an incredible consortium.

"This project will have a real impact on the ways that live performance is made and experienced, demonstrating how immersive technologies can play a key part in live performance.  Transdisciplinary collaboration is central to the making of immersive work, and this project has given us the opportunity to draw on the IOCT’s expertise in this area.”

The Audience of the Future Consortium is led by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and includes De Montfort University, Epic Games, i2 Media Research Limited, Intel Studios, Magic Leap, Manchester International Festival, Marshmallow Laser Feast, Nesta, Phi Centre, Philharmonia Orchestra, Punchdrunk, University of Portsmouth and The Space.


Posted on Wednesday 10 March 2021

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