Contemporary Research

Digital Theatre and Performance

The Virtual Theatricality Lab has established itself as a cutting-edge leader with the development of a revitalizing curriculum that unites the disciplines of computer science, art, music, theater, dance, film, and video. The VTL is dedicated to forging the live performance technologies of the 21st century and beyond.

The Gertrude Stein Repertory Theatre (GSRT) was founded in 1990 to promote and support innovation in the performing arts. To achieve its mission, GSRT is pioneering the application of new technologies to the process of creating live theater. To advance its creative work GSRT has conducted a wide range of research and workshop activities that are facilitated and enhanced by advanced Internet, film, and theater technologies.

Centre for Contemporary and Digital Performance (CCDP)
The polycentric emphases in the new research environment rest on a distinctive transdisciplinary vision which fuses artistic performance, theatre and live art with new media technologies and creative software writing/engineering. Open to partnerships in research collaboration with others in the School of Arts, the School of Engineering and Design, and other centers and institutions elsewhere in the UK and abroad, the core group activities centre on the integration of creative arts, performance writing, directing, choreography and performance design with digital technologies. investigating new and exciting opportunities for working at the frontiers of art, science, and technology, where new modes of performance and interaction are invented.

The Search for Digital Theatre documents the research of Nadja Masura towards a doctoral thesis.
It is a resource and product of the online research I explored in pursuit of understanding about the term “digital theatre” and forms of digital performance. It marks the path I’ve walked so far in attempting to connect resources for collaboration both on and off campus.It also shows my interactions with practitioners, theorists, technicians and my own process of experimentation and discovery with performance technology and integrative the live and the virtual.

AlKamie, set up by Robyn Stuart and Brian Curson, develops and exploits the use of animated digital projections in dance, performance, theatre and commerce.
“alKamie create Virtual Reality Theatre which coalesces the alive tangibility of real performers with projected virtual reality to create a hallucinogenic theatre through which onstage characters and audiences tumble alike.”

Dan Zellner, Studio Z, 1992 – 2007
I founded and was Artistic Director of Studio Z.  The company started out as a play reading group but then went on to work with multimedia and the Internet. Studio Z was the first company to use the Internet for a playwright exchange and also hosted one of the first sites featuring Chicago theaters (at the time only a handful of theatre had websites).  As part of Studio Z, I wrote plays for a variety of digital stages: virtual worlds, game type environments, mono and 3D projected stages and even Jim Mayhercy’s Digital Kitchen: a dinner theatre that featured a live tv studio next door.  I also played in these environments.


Improvisation and Performance

The Improvisational Theater Space (MIT 1997) is an interactive stage where human actors can perform accompanied by virtual actors. Virtual actors are modelled as animated “Media Creatures” that are behavior-based autonomous software agents. It uses real time computer vision, speech recognition and and speech analysis to sense the performer’s actions on stage. We used Artificial Life programming methods and behavior-based design to avoid rigid scripting of user and content interaction. The main result of this work is the construction of animated media creatures endowed with intentionality and autonomous behaviors. Media Creatures allow content to be active and to present itself to the user by dynamically adapting to the context of the interaction. We used Media Creatures to create an engaging Improvisational Theater Space where the user/performer is engaged in an improvisational dialogue with a typographic actor.

The Digital Improv Project is a multi-year investigation into the roots of human creativity as it relates to the development of artificial intelligence (AI). Started in 2008, the Digital Improv Project examines the cognitive functions of improv actors through the process of protocol analysis and behavioral coding. The end goal of this process has been to establish approaches to computational creativity that can then be employed in co-creative experiences with AI characters.  This work has yielded several prototype experiences where humans and AI actors can play improv games together, such as Party Quirks and Three Line Scene.

May 24-27, 2012  ⋅  Hexagram Concordia & matralab, Concordia University Montréal COMPROVISATIONS – Improvisation Technologies for the Performing Arts” is a workshop during which leading researchers, artists and software developers from Europe, Asia and the Americas will discuss questions and artistic approaches in the emerging and fast-growing field of computer-assisted improvisation in Music, Theatre and Dance.

Project Improv – Entertainment Technology Center
Carnegie Mellon University
Our goal is research using the improvisational acting technique of status to improve the behavior of video game characters, thereby providing additional opportunities for emotional impact.

In a future of infinitely hi-resolution graphics, how can we incorporate more believable elements of character and relationship into video games?
The Project Improv team aims to show through a series of demos that an element like status can be a powerful variable; influencing animations, behavior, relationships and ultimately story.

The basis of this project is adopting techniques from stage acting and improvisation while designing games. Improvisation in theatre is a form which does not use a script or predetermined ideas for dialog, direction, story and character. In short improvisation is getting on stage and making stuff up as you go along. Surprisingly, there are many similarities between improvisation and games.

MAPLAB Media and Performance Laboratory (added 3/7/2014)
The Media and Performance LAB (MAPLAB) is founded by the Research Centre Theatre Making Processes at the Faculty of Theatre, Utrecht School of the Arts. It is initiated and led by Joris Weijdom, head of the research group Virtual Theatre.

The main goal of the MAPLAB is to provide a space for research into the possibilities of interactive technology in a performative context, and to translate this into didactic strategies.

The modular approach to space, tools and diversity of interdisciplinary making processes the MAPLAB provides outstanding conditions to research, design and develop at the intersection of the performing arts, media and interaction.

Performative Interaction and Embodiment on an Augmented Stage