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The Royal Shakespeare Company, Manchester International Festival, Marshmallow Laser Feast & Philharmonic Orchestra will stage a live performance of Dream using motion capture.

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

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.

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.

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Art and technology combine with Dream. Photo and feature image by Stuart Martin.

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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.

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.  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.”

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