The Royal Shakespeare Company’s groundbreaking 2016 production of The Tempest collaborates with Intel and the imaginarium Studios to bring technology magically to the stage. But how can we use Intel consumer technology to put that magic into the hands of audiences before they walk into the theatre?
Our response was Conduct the Storm. Create a huge storm - the tempest that starts The Tempest - just by moving your hands in mid-air. The movements are then captured by an Intel RealSense Camera, and translated into a computer game world built in Unity. This was then projected on two huge screens dominating the front of house like sails of a ship, while connecting to strobe lights inside a cloud sculpture for the full Mother Nature experience.
The installation, built in collaboration with developer Adam Child and digital production company Marmelo, challenges the notion of digital experiences needing to be individual, or based on touch or keyboard interfaces. By responding to increasingly wild gesticulations of players, the storm connects digital technology to the theatrical setting and turns audience members into actors.
In a separate brief, we were invited to design an exhibition to accompany the show. Our response, Prospero’s Cell, is to build out the home of the character as if he were alive today. Prospero’s power in our vision comes through hacker skills, and he shares this small space with his now-teenage daughter: in the play, they’ve been stranded on the island for 12 years.
We created screens, a map (with Michael Pecirno), a “crazy wall” breaking down the play into Prospero’s scheming, and an area for a teenage girl whose only access to youth culture was what her father could pick up before they left in 2004. Like last year’s Tate Sensorium, we were drawn to an approach to exhibition design that’s fully immersive, uses technology in unusual ways, and shuns interpretation cards in favour of a direct, emotional connection to the subject.
Conduct the Storm & Prospero’s Cell are running at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, until January 21, 2017.