Digital adventures in theatre

Last month, I spent a day at Birmingham University’s newly opened Prototyping Hall to begin a new piece of work exploring digital experiences in theatre.

I’m working with The Other Way Works theatre company, run by Katie Day; John Sear from Birmingham University; and Jason Jones-Hall, a digital strategist and producer. Katie’s work is wonderfully playful, creating interactive performances and experiences, often for smaller audiences.

We’re looking at how technology can create new experiences for audiences, specifically for one of The Other Way Works’ shows which is touring in 2014.

The project is funded by Collaborative Arts Triple Helix (CATH), which brings together cultural organisations, digital companies and university academics to prototype digital ideas.

We started with coffee, post-it notes and questions:

  • Who is the audience for the digital experience?
  • What content and research is already available to use?
  • What kind of experience do we want to build, and what might that feel like?

We talked about the science behind the work, the body clock, sleep, and disruptions to sleep cycles. There’s a huge amount of research available from the show that we want to pull out and use, to give more in-depth information about the science behind the live show.

We also talked about new technology and what that could enable us to do. Our discussions included multi-touch tables, smart phones, iBeacons, sensors, binaural sound – and also digital without a screen.

From an initial brainstorm, we wrote down single thoughts and ideas onto sheets of paper, one idea per sheet.

Our handwritten notes included site-specific experiences, the role of audio, branching stories and story structures, and solo versus collaborative experiences.

These pieces of paper were spread out on the floor of the Prototyping Hall, and then grouped into similar themes or ideas.

There are a couple of linked notes and concepts that started forming during the day. We’re going to work on these ideas further during the next few weeks, and see how they start to take shape.