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February 09th, 2021 | by Mathieu Gayet

Don't miss DREAM, a live - motion capture performance by The Royal Shakespeare Company

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), in collaboration with Manchester International Festival (MIF), Marshmallow Laser Feast (MLF) and Philharmonia Orchestra will stage a live performance of Dream using motion capture as the culmination of a major piece of cutting-edge research and development (R&D).

The pioneering collaboration explores how audiences could experience live performance in the future in addition to a regular visit to a performance venue. Dream was due to open in Spring 2020 as an in person and online live performance and has been recreated during the pandemic for online audiences whilst theatres remain closed. The project is one of four Audience of the Future Demonstrator projects, supported by the government Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund which is delivered by UK Research and Innovation. 

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Dream is inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and gives a unique opportunity for 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.online website. The performance uses the latest gaming and theatre technology together with an interactive symphonic score that responds to the actors’ movement during the show.

The live performance is set in a virtual midsummer forest. Under the shadow of gathering clouds at dusk, lit by the glimmer of fireflies, Puck acts as the guide. Audiences are invited to explore the forest from the canopy of the trees to the roots, meet the sprites, Cobweb, Mustardseed, Peaseblossom and Moth, and take an extraordinary journey into the eye of a cataclysmic storm. Together with Puck they must regrow the forest before the dawn.  When day breaks, the spell breaks.

The 50-minute online event will be a shared experience between remote audience members and the seven actors who play Puck and the sprites. Audiences can choose to buy a £10 ticket to take part and at key points in the play directly influence the world of the actors, or to view the performance for free. The ten Dream performances are scheduled so that audiences across the world can join the event.

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. It’s not a replacement to being in the space with the performers but it opens up new opportunities. 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 thrilling results. The story is king, whether you are a gamer, or an audience member. Stories haven’t changed, but the way we engage audiences with them has. Shakespeare was our greatest storyteller and it’s brilliant that we get the opportunity to use one of his plays to discover what could be possible for live performance.
- Gregory Doran, RSC Artistic Director
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Our focus has been on creating an experience with the natural world at its centre. It’s a celebration of the magic of biodiversity brought to life by an incredible cast on this adventurous virtual production. The team has created a work that explores new narrative techniques, opening doors to a vast story-world that offers new perspectives enabled by cutting edge technologies performed live on a motion capture stage. We hope audiences find a new and unique way to engage with immersive storytelling. Virtual productions such as this offer new creative forms of expression and opportunities for performers, musicians, artists, designers and creative coders.
- Robin McNicholas, Director and Co-Founder of Marshmallow Laser Feast

A major piece of research runs through the project led by i2media research at Goldsmiths, University of London and NESTA, including the potential for making similar online performances financially viable for the arts sector. All findings and research will be shared with the wider UK cultural sector throughout 2021 after the live performances are completed.

Performance: Friday 12 March - Saturday 20 March 2021

Booking: dream.online - booking opens 12 noon on Monday 8 February 2021

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