A Telepresence Stage: or how to create theatre in a pandemic–project report

Paul Sermon, Steve Dixon, Sita Popat-Taylor, Randall Packer, Satinder Gill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This report describes the authors’ research project ‘Telepresence Stage’, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s (AHRC) ‘COVID-19 Rapid Response’ scheme. The project aims to develop effective and affordable new approaches to connect performers from their separate homes and place them within virtual sets online where they can rehearse and perform together. The report discusses the history of telematic performance and explains how this research is using some of those established approaches to open up alternative possibilities for theatre and dance companies working in and beyond the current pandemic. To date, the project has shown how a range of telematic chromakey systems can be employed to bring a whole new level of creativity to videoconference-based performance work, freeing the performers’ bodies from the entrapment of Zoom boxes and co-locating them in specially designed 3D environments. Drawing on case studies from some of the project’s eight residencies with professional performance groups, the authors discuss how existing techniques have been adapted for different levels of experience, and how the project has offered new ways of working. Whilst the pandemic is expected to be a time-limited issue, these techniques hold value for performers and creators of theatre and dance well beyond ‘lockdown’.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Dec 2021

Keywords

  • telepresence
  • telematic
  • dramaturgy
  • scenography
  • phenomenology
  • chromakey
  • videoconference
  • Telepresence

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