Immersive performances of the future

Lead Participant: Royal Shakespeare Company


This Audience of the Future demonstrator project, led by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), brings together, for the first time, a unique team of cultural industry practitioners and researchers who are ideally placed to inform and guide the next developmental stage of Live Performance.

Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR) offer under-exploited opportunities for the UK cultural sector to make Live Performance more immersive. We have already seen a new era of theatre borrowing conventions from video games to tell stories - and we know that audiences want "to find fun, interactive experiences and share them with the world" (Brian Schwab, Head of Interaction Lab at Magic Leap).

Our consortium will explore what it means to perform live through multiple channels, and the future of real-time immersive performance connected across multiple stages. Audiences will no longer be bound by their location - instead we will use devices such as mobile phones, Extended Reality (XR) headsets and streams into a Live Performance environment, or in the home. We will investigate the new workflows required to deliver this, and the new ways of making the creative content that bring VR/AR/MR into theatre-making and Live Performance.

During 2019 each partner will develop a series of prototype projects, drawing on their extensive expertise in site-specific performance, whether this is music and audio, audience development or theatre. We will develop new models for Live Performance that focus on the future needs of audiences with the development of new technologies, working in partnership with Magic Leap, Intel and Epic Games, and specialist companies such as Vicon and FBFX.

This research and development (R&D) work will lead to our main demonstrator performance, at the heart of the RSC's autumn 2020 programme, connecting to a main stage Shakespeare production in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.

This project will broaden the possibilities of Live Performance, from digital broadcast, as is the case for live-to-digital work currently, to a mass distributed digital model on multiple platforms. Audiences will connect with the performance live, wherever their location, celebrating the strengths of digital connectivity and establishing a high quality Live Performance to be enjoyed, in a variety of ways, around the world.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

Royal Shakespeare Company £3,513,525 £ 1,756,762


Rite Digital Limited £275,716 £ 165,430
University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom £200,140 £ 200,140
Philharmonia Limited, London £9,977 £ 5,987
Manchester International Festival, United Kingdom £397,884 £ 238,730
Punchdrunk Global Ltd, London £908,173 £ 635,721
Jingo Juice Limited, London £537,539 £ 376,277
De Montfort University, United Kingdom £205,528 £ 205,528
Punchdrunk, LONDON £88,188 £ 61,732
Nesta, LONDON £123,553 £ 123,553
I2 Media Research Limited, LONDON £319,508 £ 223,656


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