Dramaturgy and Telematic Performance

Lead Research Organisation: Royal Central Sch of Speech and Drama
Department Name: Faculty

Abstract

Telematic performance refers to events in which performers, audiences, or both, are separated from each other in space and interact at a distance. Performers and audiences are brought together, in various configurations, through internet or satellite technologies to create virtual, or mixed virtual and physical events. Performance can be generated through and transmitted by a wide range of communication technologies. Video streaming of live performance has, however, largely been restricted to dance, with theatre being limited to broadcasts of staged dramatic productions to audiences in other locations. The aim of my research is to develop models of theatre that exploit the possibilities and potentials of being distributed across the world in real time, and to find ways they can be used by artists without ready access to well-equipped and expensive studios in institutions.

As theatre, the aim is not to focus upon the active communication between the users of the telematics - the performers - after all, theatre deals with the miscommunication between the protagonists as much as communication. The aim is more to use the physical nature of the telematic situation - physical (and cultural) distance, and failure as well as success in the technologies of communication (whether language or the internet) - to explore the relation between the physical and psychological distance of the self to the other.

One essential is to establish the equality, the equivalence, of the participants, whether they be physically present or mere images on a wall. There are two issues here - one, establishing functional equality so that performers have equal effectiveness wherever they might be located, and can be aware of each other in useful ways, and two, to be seen to be equal. The first requires a technological solution, while the other is more complex, and revolves around the need to establish the possibility of a sculptural presence for the physically absent. That is, to embed the visual and aural information about people and spaces on the other side of the world into the physical presence of the room where the audience is, to turn electronic impulses into more than a purely visual or aural experience.

To this end I am proposing three projects for the rest of my fellowship.

Project One, 'Nowhere', brings two remote locations together as revolving video 'windows' into their worlds, projected across the walls of the viewing spaces surrounding the audiences and merging and contracting their spaces into a single complex space. This created a new kind of performance space. This will be developed practically in an online studio connecting two locations in London and workshops and productions planned with locations in Chichester and Beirut.

Project Two, 'A Haunting', was first developed as a single project for the foyer for the Barbican, where it is still under discussion. However, the idea encompasses a wide range of environmental and sculptural video-based performance specifics which will be researched at Central as a series of full-scale elements. 'A Haunting' is anticipated to be a series of synchronised and connected video situations combining to make a single installation, with a repeating cycle of 15 minutes, using multiple cameras, mirrors, video projection and live relays.

Project 3 will explore the construction and use of an extended filmic space that extends over various distant locations and may be encountered either physically at a single location as a sculptural installation or via a website where a more extensive but virtual representation will be accessible. By filmic space I mean an architectural, spatial environment presented at least partly as video. As an installation, the physical presence, visual contact, and images of remote spaces interact in different ways, while the on-line presence functions as a repository of all available spaces irrespective of, and omitting reference to, physical distribution.

Planned Impact

The project is concerned with the sorts of dramaturgy, narrative strategies and performance styles that are appropriate to telematic performance, and in that respect it seeks to benefit practitioners who are engaged broadly with the contemporary performing arts, and more specifically with new models for live and distributed performance events. The project will reach industry professionals and the public through a number of outlets. The technical specifications and a report of their development (in Years 1 and 2) will be available online prior to the start of this second phase of the project, with further material added as the dramaturgical experiments continue. A website is planned which will serve as the testbed for the third performance project while simultaneously explaining the Fellowship's aims. It will be publicised by the project partners as well as through Central's existing industry networks.

Work-in-progress showings have been built into the Fellowship on an annual basis with at least one public performance each year that is followed by a post-performance discussion and seminar. One of the main goals of the Fellowship has been to cross between academic inquiry and professional practicality in this exploration. The two symposia (May 2011 and spring 2013) will be designed to draw a diverse audience of practitioners and researchers for discussion of challenges in telematic theatre. The first will look at dramaturgical possibilities, characterisation, persona and narrative alongside technological requirements for a range of strategies. The second will concentrate on the implications of globalisation with regard to content and experiences of theatrical time.

Each year will have a performance outcome derived from the programme of experiments, although the scale of these performances will be dependent on external funding which is being sought by my company, Station House Opera. It is hoped that the final performances will be available for viewing live on the Internet for online spectators.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title At Home in Gaza and London 
Description An artistic collaboration set up and led by Station House Opera under my direction with artists and performers in Gaza and in London, resulting in a public showing to audiences at the Watermans Arts Centre, London, and Al Meshal Theatre, Gaza. Twelve collaborators in each location worked together using a combination of Skype and Video transfer to create a combined performance in which the performers and artists were able to work together in a single visual and aural space. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact The showing generated great interest from general public, professional practitioners and producers/funders alike. Festivals in London such as the London International Festival of Theatre and the Shubbak Festival have expressed strong interest in presenting the developed work in the future. 
URL http://www.athomeingazaandlondon.com
 
Title At Home in Gaza and London 
Description Six public showings in London, Liverpool and Gaza (Palestine) of a major theatre production. Twelve artists (six in either place) along with supporting artistic/technical/production team of ten participated in a production taking place simultaneously in the two locations linked by live video streaming. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact The piece contributed greatly to the artistic and cultural development of the participants and to the aim to increase cultural connections between the two countries. It attracted great attention of both the general public, special interest groups and the media in its contribution to increasing awareness of current artistic social and political conditions in the two locations. The process strengthened the international team greatly by developing understanding, working processes and artistic reach, and set the project up for further development in due course. 
URL http://www.athomeinlondonandgaza.com
 
Title Dissolved 
Description An international collaboration with colleagues in Berlin, the production grew out of a series of workshops originated at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, and was funded by the Arts Council of England and the the Haup in Berlin. Two locations, Beaconsfield Art Gallery in London and the Sophiensaele Teater in Berlin were linked by video streaming in which performers in the two locations shared through video super-imposition a performance space in which they could interact. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact The production was reviewed in various on-line publications and has inspired other performances and student projects. 
 
Title Nowhere 
Description A fully realised version of Nowhere, within an academic context. A performance linking Royal Central School of Speech and Drama with Buckingham New University with video streaming, using synchronised and motorised cameras and projectors. An audience at each location observed the live performance and two video streams of local and remote locations on projections rotating around the walls. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2013 
Impact The result of final research done on the project prior to a full public production, which remains to be realised. Produced in two academic situations, it stimulated interest in doctoral students at Central as well as undergraduates at Bucks. 
 
Title Nowhere: Last Year at my House 
Description a telematic performance linking two locations in London via the internet, with performers at both locations and an audience at one. Live video projections from rotating cameras at both locations scanned the walls of a circular space through projectors s, a telematic performance linking two locations in London via the internet, with performers at both locations and an audience at one. Live video projections from rotating cameras at both locations scanned the walls of a circular space through projectors synchronised to the cameras. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2011 
Impact It led to further technical and aesthetic developments in the idea, resulting in a proposal that currently (2014) is waiting for a full-scale production opportunity. 
 
Title The Apartment 
Description An installation and performance presented at the Nikolaj Church Arts Centre, Copenhagen, as a result of a residency run by Hotel Pro Forma, Copenhagen. A room-sized frame represented on three of its sides via video projection views into a room occupied by up to nine people. This was at first-floor level, above an open frame occupied by three people. The video projections revealed a space occupied by performers who were either absent (ie recordings) or present in the space (below); these two classes of performer were merged visually together to appear as combined, compound people. 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact The presentation was received enthusiastically by the public and further plans for developing the piece are in progress. 
 
Title The Doors 
Description A performance installation linking Royal Central School of Speech and Drama with Buckingham New University via video streaming. A three-dimensional video reconstruction of a live 'room' at each location merged together, the rooms also featured telematically reciprocating motorised doors that automatically synchronised with each other. Performers and the public could interact with both the doors and with the merged video. A collaboration with Jem Kelly and Bucks New University. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact The event led to an eight-week residency in Copenhagen with Hotel Pro Forma to explore the performative aspects of the project, scheduled for March 2015. 
 
Description THE INITIAL AIMS

This award funded the development and production in years two to five of the fellowship of practical performance pieces and an updated telematic system for video-streaming that could be tested in performance conditions. The context concerned the technology required for two-way video streaming in a performance environment, that is flexible, reliable, affordable and low-latency, and the emergent aesthetics and dramaturgies for a telematic theatre.

The questions asked were:
What arrangement of technologies provides a robust, accessible and portable platform for telematic performance?
o In what ways can telematics serve as a conduit for dramatic performance and exploit the nature of this new medium?
o What new understandings of space (global, virtual, cultural, personal) arise from performances made through telematic production? As the project develops, it will address the following questions:
o How may one make a coherent, global space that is recognisably 'tele- present', yet absolute to its participants and spectators? How may one occupy this space? What manipulations of it are possible?
o How may temporal and architectural innovations such as changes of scale, delay, continuity and connection challenge the nature of Euclidian space while retaining its relation to the physical bodies of the occupants/performers and audience/viewers?
o What is the nature of 'identification' (with character or persona) in telematic performance, and what are its limits?
o What could be the implications for drama when performers in different locations are seen to be equivalent and isomorphic - as if they are the same character?
o How does telematic space enable (or inhibit) representation of the absent other as a projection of personal fear or desire?
o Performatively, how might telematic theatre dramatise mis- representation and mis-understanding




THE RESEARCH

These primary aims led to the following areas of research in the technology and dramaturgy:

A) Technical: 1. An assessment of the current situation.
2. An exploration of the constraints of video-streaming, what the trade-offs are, and how they interact. How to achieve optimal real-time interaction and reciprocity, using domestic consumer connections, as well as academic institutional ones
3. Other telematically linked mechanisms.


B) Aesthetics and Dramaturgy:
1. What is meant by 'presence'. 'telepresence'?
2. The video-conferencing model: the abolition of distance, the illusion of spatial coherence.
3. The absence model: to use the characteristics of the medium and the technology to find new representations of space and time, including appearance and disappearance, remote action/control, latency, spatial manipulation - visual and aural, distance, absence.
4. Practical issues of long-distance collaboration.
5. The emergent politics of networked performance: physical space and virtual space,




A1. The current situation is that high quality video streaming remains difficult to attain when required to operate in real-time with very low latency, as is necessary where performers need to respond to each other across a two-way connection. Single-direction streaming (eg by the National Theatre, or productions such as Katie Mitchell's 'The Forbidden Zone' recently at the Barbican) employs significant latency in order to ensure good quality images.

Video conferencing systems provide the low-latency, but at the cost of limited image quality (restricted to talking heads against plain backgrounds) and constrained institutional and physical set-ups.

So what in this situation suggests itself as a useable idea for performance-making that is equally distributed across space in terms of both audience and actor, one that acknowledges (and valorises) the technological environment in which the event takes place? Furthermore, given the evident fact that virtual presence is not and perhaps artistically should not be confused with physical presence, what are the characteristics and potentials of virtuality and absence in performance and where do they lead?

Much of the most successful networked performance forgoes full video in favour of less data-heavy media to provide instant feedback and interactivity. With ever increasing bandwidth and compression techniques, how should video streaming position itself in the future of networked performance?


A2. In years three to five of the fellowship I developed with my technical director Damien Wiles an improved streaming system that is portable, flexible, focussed on the spatial and site-specific, scalable, and affordable. To this end, we researched a system that maximises the available bandwidth to utilise multiple and manipulable video streams, assessing the relative advantages of matching hardware, software and ISPs. We investigated the strengths and limitations of working with proprietary systems and institution-based resources with the aim of finding practical solutions for independent theatre- and performance-makers.

The systems developed were tested over extended periods in performance conditions - at RCSSD, Buckingham New University, Trinity Buoy Wharf, Beaconsfield Art Gallery, Sophiensaele (Berlin).

A3. I have also begun research with Rob White and David McLellan into the technology of the 'internet of things' to employ physical (electromechanical) interactivity, and crucially reciprocity, between distant locations in the creation of linked and synchronised physical structures. This led to the development of the telematically reciprocating motorised doors used in The Doors.



B1. This question is encountered by all who work with mediatised representations of human beings.
My practice with telematics has concentrated on finding effective structures for video-streaming distant performers, without pre-defining what those effects might be. The work focussed on the spatial, sculptural and architectural character of mediated representations, rather than their graphic, iconographic or linguistic potential. I was interested in the relation between the perceptions of the viewer or spectator as a physical person in a space and the absent performer also understood as a presence with actual location and form in the space. Each of the three primary outcomes of the research found a different solution to the problem, but all contributed to the overall aim of establishing a shared space for performance that could be understood physically and spatially, rather than purely as images on a projection screen.

Experience of these projects suggests to me that there are many kinds and graduations of 'telepresence'. The sense of someone leaving the room when you terminate a connection. The degree to which you agree to mutual dependency/co-operation - that is, the degree you share your fate with the distant person - is the effect they have on you direct or indirect, sensory or imaginative, physically causal or detached, moral or dispassionate? The degree you are aware of the physical position or action of the distant person in real time, in relation to some spatial orientation of your own body. How the distant space and the local one are related perceptually.
To what degree can 'telepresence' operate in the same way (have the same affect) as the actual physical presence?
And what about absence? Awareness of the physical absence of a person in some way is a measure of their virtual presence, in whatever way that is conceived or felt.

Primarily, there is a sense in which presence is revealed or even learnt: exposure to a telematic practice opens new perceptions to what presence feels like and can be. A door opening or closing by itself is a curiosity, until you learn that it signals the arrival or departure of an active, causal agent, or a videographic one. Or, the location of a distant object's image consistently at, or superimposed upon, the location of a local object creates a persistent, functioning relationship where none existed before. Change the objects into people and the effect is amplified.

B2. The industry aim for video-streaming has been for a low-latency, high resolution functionality, allied to efficient data-manipulation tools. The notion of the desirability of creating an audio-visual illusion that is next-best to the real thing seems unexceptionable, and has been taken on by many in the artistic community. This is a next step in the accelerated flattening of the world that is the prime feature of globalisation. However it may be maintained that as an artist it is part of one's job to re-configure available technologies away from their nominal functions when they suggest ways to achieve a purpose that is not necessarily for what they are designed for. Research into affordable video-conferencing technologies revealed systems highly focussed on small-scale, rigidly controlled environments - typically a speaker's head-and-shoulders against a plain background. Under these restrictions, it is possible to attain a seemingly good quality result - the illusion of an illusion. Such systems do not deal well with the transmission and representation of large or complex spaces, or site-specific spaces. They are also proprietary systems that are difficult to customise.


B3 The research aimed to uncover alternatives to a model of telematic space that effectively denied the existence of distance in its construction and that inevitably raised questions about the point of attempting to create an illusion of normal spatial and dramatic coherence. It aimed at ensuring that distant performers retain the integrity of their own performance, and distant spaces the integrity of their own physical location, thereby insisting on a physical presence providing the root for whatever telematics could offer. In this way, by unavoidable comparison with the local, the physical presence of the distant, in its own place, could be experienced empathetically from afar, in a form appropriate to its status as distant, via a close communication with the physically present.

Two pieces under development in my AHRC research address these themes. These projects create telematic spaces that are inherently different from coherent representations of material space, and attempt to seek out characteristics that bring the two locations cognitively or perceptually into accord and/or collision with each other, thereby creating understandings of presence and absence, agency and virtuality, that are cognisant of the physical facts of distance and the technical means of illusion and representation. The research used workshops and studio-based experimentation to provoke and analyse the relations of streamed video imagery to physical space in terms of appearance and disappearance, remote action/control, latency, spatial manipulation - visual and aural, distance, absence.

B4. Through practical experiments and workshops in academic, semi-public and public and professional contexts, estimates were made of the relative success and failure of the working practices adopted. The nature of creation and collaboration over internet links, sometimes across national borders, was explored:
at RCSSD, linking two rehearsal rooms in the same building. This allowed participants to experience and gain comprehension of the technical set-up and artistic process, which encouraged an informed input and discussion to off-set the naturally fragmentary experience of the whole event that comes from working with other performers (and often the workshop leader) who are not in the same room. A similar set-up enabled development on the piece Dissolved at the extensive studios of the Blackhole Factory company in Braunschweig, Germany.
a) Workshops in studios at Peckham which took place in a single large space, exploring the dramaturgy and choreography of linked work with all participants able to monitor the whole process
b) Workshops using internet links between Bucks New University and RCSSD, Stockwell studios and studios in Berlin, and studios at Trinity Buoy Wharf London and Sophiensaele, Berlin. These built on a perceived problem with the practice of telematic theatre experienced by Station House Opera in the company's work 2004-2008 linking theatres in England, Brazil, Singapore, Germany and Holland, relating to the encouraging and ensuring of common artistic, cultural and economic goals between the participating groups, who through the working process were not able to directly share space or communicate face-to-face. Emphasis was laid on clearly identifying potential partners as being able to share common goals and stating what these were before commencement, developing personal and professional relationships, extending development period, and allowing regular social time using the video links as well as work time.
The results of these experiences were collated into a general Best Practice paper.

B5 Working with students and others from various ethnic and national backgrounds, it became clear that the frame of telematic theatre holds various and different meanings. While remaining located practically within a Western European context, based at RCSSD in London, two linked interests developed during the period of the fellowship that sought to develop ideas relating to the interaction between physical and virtual space in a) the politics of national independence and borders, and b) the expansion of online space and the shrinking of accessible physical space (especially in London).



THE OUTPUTS

Four main outputs were achieved during the fellowship, along with subsidiaries (workshops, symposia, conference papers, a publication): a technical platform and three performance/theatre pieces.

1) A technical platform for researching and producing telematic theatre.

Due to the rapid change in the technical field over the past five years, I updated the system I developed in year one to accommodate High Definition video.
The platform avoids proprietary streaming systems and resources such as Access Grid, as it was clear that the way to achieve the aims of the research - a robust, stable, flexible, mobile system that was useful, accessible and affordable by the independent artist or theatre-maker - was to develop a system that was flexible and non-redundant, one that was able to control as required, video, lights, sound, electromechanical devices, in any physical situation/location, on whatever link was available, without booking or institutional allegiances and red tape. It would be possible to leverage the standards pertaining to any particular situation, where the institution could act usefully as a broker or technical resource, but should be free of the obligation to work through institutions.

The system uses commercially available hardware encoders coding rtsp streams, decoded by VLC, up to a possible 1080p, via Teradek Cubes.

A technical guide has been compiled, including how to maximise the available networks and match equipment to network.




In addition, I have led innovations in two technological areas:
Dissolved: Mixing video rtsp streams locally or remotely using simple keyboard controls.
As part of a complete Linux-based video streaming and mixing system, technical design by Damien Wiles.
Dissolved/Project 3: Telematically-linked reciprocally controlled electro-mechanical system for operating doors. Technical design Rob White and Dave McLellan.


Performances.


2) Dissolved is a performance developed through workshops and through a collaboration with Berlin-based artists Florian Beigl and Christopher Hewitt to a full production at Beaconsfield Gallery, London and Sophiensaerle, Berlin (March 2014).

'Dissolve' superimposes two physical spaces statically upon each other, in such a way that performers facing in any direction may be aware of how this shared space is inhabited by distant performers as well as local ones.

A basic set-up consists of a space, or a corner of a space, bounded by white walls that corresponds in terms of floor line and replicated objects exactly with another in another location. A camera in the same position in each space presents identical views that are then superimposed on a screen. Each space contributes 50% of the combined image, but as both basic images are identical, this fact becomes invisible, and what is presented to the eye is apparently a single space.

Performers, both local and distant, are seen as transparent entities apparently occupying a solid and coherent space - except when a performer in one space intentionally occupies the image of a performer in the other, at which point a solid, combined performer emerges. This combined character has agency in this combined world, able to interact physically with objects in a coherent manner, and often a third identity, when two physically dissimilar people combine to create the image of an uncanny new person.

The performers mutually creating this entity are in a position where with co-operation they achieve telematic solidity but lose independence, and the piece revolves around the unstable relationships built up between shifting pairs of performers, each one alternating between conflict leading to isolation, and co-operation leading to lose of self-determination.

For the performers, this leads to a strong sense of being inhabited, or of inhabiting another, physically and spatially. The three-dimensional space itself acquires the characteristics of doubleness, as if it is haunted by ghosts. If set up to enable it, this nature can be experienced by the viewer as well, whereby a member of the public in place A finds themselves occupied by someone else in place B. In this situation the opportunity arises to play the game, joining in and while gaining the opportunity to affect events at the same time losing the opportunity to assert the will. This leads to a paradoxical but real problem of physical existence that echoes real life situations and allows the space to become a place where such problems can be represented.

Apart from these dramatic qualities inherent to the telematic space, it has extended characteristics unlike normal physical space that contribute to a tangible but phantasmogorical quality of doubleness. A door may be both open and closed, a wall both exist and not exist. Thus aspects of distant locations that are peculiar to those locations - views of the outside, specific events and people - may appear in the telematic space uncompromised by being made obviously transparent, viewed in glimpses through a door, or revealed in entirety by the presence of a wall in the other space which by dint of being featureless disappears from view.


3) The Doors was presented as part of the symposium The Spaces of Telematic Theatre: Julian Maynard Smith held in September 2014 at RCSSD connected online with Buckingham New University. It comprised the set for the symposium and for performances by Jem Kelly's students at Bucks that were interspersed between and integrated into the presentations and discussions of the symposium. It also represented an ambitious project for the technical team, Damien Wiles for the network, streaming and video design, and Rob White and Davis McLellan for the interactive doors.

'The Doors' is the result of the research proposed in the Case for Support for my application for Project Costs for years 2-5 of my Fellowship, named there as "Project 2, 'A Haunting'". It is based on a proposal for the foyer of the Barbican Arts Centre, which would render one of the very large columns there 'transparent' and inhabited by people, via video projection.

At RCSSD, two constructions were seen in the space. The first was a small room, 2.8m by 1.5m by 2.6m in height, open on three sides and bounded only by a steel frame, while the fourth side contained a door. Next to this was an identically-sized box composed on three sides by video screens, each of which showed a full-size view of one side of the room. This created a sculptural representation of the room-like space, into which the viewer 'look', and through it to the space the beyond. In Bucks was a similar set-up with a open-framed room and a video box. On each video-box could be projected the views into the room at either RCSSD or Bucks, or a mixture of the two dissolved together - in any combination.
Thus in each space there was a videographic, sculptural representation of the space and events in the room in either one of the locations, separated or merged together. In addition this structure allowed a view into the distant space from any direction. The audience was free to walk around the space and look at the room and the box from different angles.
The doors in each of the small rooms at RCSSD and Bucks were linked so that when a door at either location was moved the door at the other moved in synchronisation. They were controlled by motors that reciprocally followed each other through changes of speed and direction, so that when one was pushed open or slammed shut in one location the door in the other echoed its movement. The two could be seen to move together when the video streams were merged on the video box projections.




DISSEMINATION OF FINDINGS


Progress and results of the research have been disseminated via conference papers, two symposia and a book. Workshops were held at periods throughout the fellowship, open to the public, both at RCSSD and elsewhere. Numerous students and others have expressed interest in the work both academically and practically. Both these avenues for dissemination and knowledge exchange will be maintained in the future.

Of the main outputs, Dissolved has so far been the only one so far to reach a major public production, aided by funding from the Arts Council of England, the British Council, and the cultural fund for Berlin Capital City.



TAKING THE FINDINGS FORWARD

Development and Production

The collaboration with Dr Jem Kelly at Bucks New University is ongoing and there are plans for continuing development of the technology and the artistic practice. The research might be continued at the university, but it is also intended to continue the work through practical development to public production. This will be facilitated by continuing the working relationships with Damien Wiles and Rob White in the technical field, and continuing artistic development of the crucial results of the research through commissions and residencies.

Currently, Julian Maynard Smith has been accepted for a 6 - 8 week residency in Copenhagen run by Hotel Pro Forma in March 2013 in order to pursue the artistic development of The Doors, while a new production of Dissolved in autumn 2015 is under discussion with Festival Bo:m in Seoul and Yokohama.

Discussions are under way for the creation of a new company to be affiliated with Julian Maynard Smith's company Station House Opera, but with a specific focus on two main areas:
a) taking the technical research in the design of video for telematic performance forwards to the production of a practical system for the company's own use but also available to others needing the advantages it would offer in video streaming and design, and
b) producing theatre and performance projects in designed telematic environments
There would be advantages for a company with a clear artistic and technical focus in a new field, establishing a practice in telematic architecture and performance on a tested but innovative technical base.

In particular, I intend to seek further funding to support part a) and in part b), to take The Doors forward to production, over the coming 12 months.


MARCH 2016
Since the end of my fellowship in Sept 2014 two main key findings have emerged.
1) The development of The Doors produced a new piece The Apartment. This was intended to aid the development of the dramaturgy by reducing the technical problems associated with live-streaming performance. The video 'room' created for The Doors was reinstated in a single location, substituting video recording for live-streaming. The video projection 'room' was mounted on top of the live action 'room', creating the effect of an apartment arrangement, one small flat above another. The projected room combined images of what happened live in the room below with images recorded in the past, at two different times with two different groups of people. Thus three 'generations' of people were seen in the single space, acting both independently and collectively, merged together. At any one time a maximum of two were visible on any one of the three screen walls, allowing endless surprising changes while sustaining the sense of real-time continuity. There was an impression of continuous inhabitation of the space by the three groups, even though one was always invisible on any one screen. This was sustained by the fact the three screens often showed different combinations of people.

The fact of using recordings rather than live streaming allowed for more rigorous and efficient rehearsals in developing the performance, which was invaluable when using the merging technique I have used since Dissolved.

Technically, the system was improved and made lightweight (and fully portable by normal air travel) by using small HD camcorders and an Intel Nuc running Linux.

2) The use of telematic performance to bridge physical and political borders was employed in At Home in Gaza and London, a piece developed with Taghrid Choucair-Visozo linking in real time the cities of Gaza and London. Ten artists in each location were invited to work together using two techniques for sharing performance space, the 'Panorama' technique used by Station House Opera between 2004-2008 and the 'Dissolved' technique developed during my AHRC fellowship. Because of the severe restrictions on equipment and facilities in Gaza, this used commonly available consumer technology - laptops (pcs in Gaza, macs in London), camcorders, Skype and video transfer services. At each location free software (Syphoner, ManyCam) was used to bring an incoming Skype video source into Isadora where it was mixed with the outgoing local video source. Video recorded in each location was also sent by file transfer to the other, where it was mixed with live video. This system allowed for an immediate, trouble-free means of sharing a video space that responded well to the external demands of the production, in terms of curfews, electricity supply etc.. The process allowed an intimate rapport to build between the participants on either side, and for the isolation felt by the Gazans to be abolished for the duration of the project. Dramaturgically, the focus was on the respective ideas of 'home' with participants telling their own personal stories, and videoing their own houses and other places that were close to them, which were then 'inhabited' by participants on the other side. The interactions between the two sides in front of the dual audiences were alternately fully live, live/recorded, or recorded on both sides. This project has attracted great interest and after two workshop sessions two weeks in Jan 2016 and four weeks in Oct/Nov 2016 I am now in the process of seeking funding for major productions at Shubbak Festival and the London International Festival of Theatre in 2017 and 2018.
Exploitation Route Artistically, the results of the research have been and will be experienced both through the workshops and through public productions and so will be able to influence ideas and practices in the professional and academic fields.
The development of a technical platform for video streaming and design will enable practitioners, both independent and academic, to produce their own work in the field, as well as being open to assessment by those with technical interest in the field.
Sectors Creative Economy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

 
Description Contribution to the wider appreciation and discussion of networked performance through public engagement with performances, workshops, symposia and conferences (as listed in Engagement Activities, Artistic & Creative Products, and Spin Outs)
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Creative Economy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural

 
Description Arts Council of England Grants for the Arts
Amount £42,000 (GBP)
Organisation Arts Council England 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2014 
End 04/2014
 
Description Digital Utopia Research and Development Residency, London International Festival of Theatre
Amount £1,000 (GBP)
Organisation London International Festival of Theatre 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2016 
End 01/2016
 
Description Grants for the Arts
Amount £15,000 (GBP)
Organisation Arts Council England 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2016 
End 11/2016
 
Description grants for the arts
Amount £50,000 (GBP)
Organisation Arts Council England 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2018 
End 02/2019
 
Description At Home in Gaza and London 
Organisation Al Mishal Theatre
Country Palestine, State of 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution I and my company Station House Opera were sole artistic leaders of the project, and funded all aspects of the collaboration not covered by the partners mentioned below, including artist's fees and production costs.
Collaborator Contribution Al Meshal Theatre provided their theatre space and technical equipment including video projectors and sound equipment. LIFT provided a fee under their Digital Utopia initiative, and ongoing administrative assistance Watermans Arts Centre, also part of the Digital Utopia initiative, provided their rehearsal spaces.
Impact public showing in January 2016. The event was multi-disciplinary, involving drama, dance, video work, photography, and digital media including video streaming.
Start Year 2016
 
Description At Home in Gaza and London 
Organisation London International Festival of Theatre
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution I and my company Station House Opera were sole artistic leaders of the project, and funded all aspects of the collaboration not covered by the partners mentioned below, including artist's fees and production costs.
Collaborator Contribution Al Meshal Theatre provided their theatre space and technical equipment including video projectors and sound equipment. LIFT provided a fee under their Digital Utopia initiative, and ongoing administrative assistance Watermans Arts Centre, also part of the Digital Utopia initiative, provided their rehearsal spaces.
Impact public showing in January 2016. The event was multi-disciplinary, involving drama, dance, video work, photography, and digital media including video streaming.
Start Year 2016
 
Description At Home in Gaza and London 
Organisation Watermans Arts Centre
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution I and my company Station House Opera were sole artistic leaders of the project, and funded all aspects of the collaboration not covered by the partners mentioned below, including artist's fees and production costs.
Collaborator Contribution Al Meshal Theatre provided their theatre space and technical equipment including video projectors and sound equipment. LIFT provided a fee under their Digital Utopia initiative, and ongoing administrative assistance Watermans Arts Centre, also part of the Digital Utopia initiative, provided their rehearsal spaces.
Impact public showing in January 2016. The event was multi-disciplinary, involving drama, dance, video work, photography, and digital media including video streaming.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Berlin Dissolved 
Organisation Sophiensaele
Country Germany 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution I led the collaboration with my German partners in developing the ideas for 'Dissolved' from the British-based workshops of 2012 to a full international production in 2014.
Collaborator Contribution Florian Feigl and Christopher Hewitt joined me as Berlin-based collaborators for the international production of 'Dissolved', starting with an international workshop linking Berlin and London in July 2012, collaborating on the technical and administrative (inc fundraising) development of the project, organising a workshop with Black Hole Theatre Company at their studios in Braunschweig Germany in March 2013, and as full partners in the final rehearsals and production at Beaconsfield Art Gallery London and the Sophiensaele Theater Berlin in March 2014.
Impact 'Dissolved' at Beaconsfield Art Gallery London and the Sophiensaele Theater Berlin, March 2014. disciplines involved video streaming technology, performance
Start Year 2012
 
Description Jem Kelly / Buckingham New University 
Organisation Buckinghamshire New University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I led the artistic development and realisation of various telematic theatre projects within this collaboration. These consist of 1) workshops developing concepts for 'Dissolved', CSSD Autumn 2012; 2) production of 'Nowhere' (second version) at CSSD, September 2013 linking CSSD with Bucks New University; 3) Symposium 'The Spaces of Telematic Theatre' and presentation of 'The Doors', linking CSSD and Bucks New University Sept 2014.
Collaborator Contribution Dr Jem Kelly contributed to the 'Dissolved' workshops at CSSD. He led the Buckingham New University side of the production of 'Nowhere', leading the technical installation and directing students from the department of Performing Arts. He contributed to the development of the telematic project 'The Doors', co-organised the Symposium at CSSD and Bucks New University and was symposium leader at CSSD, and directed his students in the the presentation of 'The Doors'.
Impact 'Nowhere' was produced at CSSD and Bucks New University in Sept 2013 The 'Dissolved' workshops were part of the early development of 'Dissolved' produced at Beaconsfield Art Gallery London and the Sophiensaele Theater Berlin in March 2014. The Symposium 'The Spaces of Telematic Theatre' and presentation of 'The Doors', Sept 2014
Start Year 2012
 
Description At Home in Gaza and London 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 24 artists participated in a two-week workshop and shared the results with and audience of around 150, 50 in London and 100 in Gaza, which stimulated an animated discussion involving the audiences in both places as well as the participants. In both places great interest was generated by the event, with (in London) offers of private donations and of potential future production from established venues/organisations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.athomeingazaandlondon.com
 
Description International Federation for Theatre Research (Barcelona 2013) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact 50 people attended the session, which stimulated a discussion.

I received further requests for information about my work and copies of my paper.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description International Federation for Theatre Research (Prague 2011) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation paper presentation
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A paper entitled "Exploring the Possible Architectures of Telematic Theatre" examining the experimental results from Station House Opera's telematic theatre productions 2004-2007 and Julian Maynard Smith's recent research at Central School of Speech and Drama from 2009.

Widespread interest in the work discussed and further invitations to conferences
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL http://www.firt-iftr.org/
 
Description International Performance (London, Liverpool and Gaza) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Audiences of between 200 and 50 in the UK and 150 in Gaza attended each of six performances of the production "At Home in Gaza and London" a telematic theatre production linking the two countries with video streaming, which received great attention from the general public, press and specific interested parties.
Participating venues were: Battersea Arts Centre (London), Everyman Theatre Liverpool (Liverpool Arab Arts Festival), El Wedad Theatre, Gaza City.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.athomeingazaandlondon.com
 
Description Performance Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Twelve artist participants, six in London and six in Gaza (Palestine) worked together for four weeks with a team of ten artistic leaders/assistants/technicians, six in London and four in Gaza, to create material for a forthcoming production using live media streaming to link audiences and performers in the two locations. Two public showings were given to audiences in Gaza and London along with a live-streamed Q&A session.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.athomeingazaandlondon.com
 
Description Symposium (London) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation keynote/invited speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A symposium entitled "How Might the Whole World Become a Stage?" on telematic theatre, addressing the bringing together of distant spaces through networked media and control systems, centred on the research of Julian Maynard Smith at Central School of Speech and Drama

Invitations to further conferences and meetings on the subject, interest from many students and professionals in attending workshops.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL https://www.cssd.ac.uk/
 
Description Symposium and presentation (London) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I organised a day-long symposium and presentation entitled 'The Spaces of Telematic Theatre' which took place at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and at Buckingham New University, institutions which were linked by seven video streams enabling contributions and conversations to take place across the two locations. In addition there was a performance in Buckingham streamed into a three-dimensional space at Central, and a demonstration of a reciprocally-controlled motorised set that spanned the two places.
The symposium included talks from five main contributors from international backgrounds, including an online contribution from Copenhagen, and from myself.

The event provoked considerable discussion among those attending and participating in both locations, and is being considered as the basis for a practical performance production and for further research, developing a collaboration between myself and Dr Jem Kelly from Bucks New University
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Theatre Conference (Prague) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A group of about 120 attended a lecture about my my, which stimulated a discussion session afterwards

I received invitations from other conferences and much interest from other practitioners in the field
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Theatre research conference (London) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 30 people attended the lecture which stimulated questions and discussion afterwards.

Considerable discussion took place with peers and practitioners during the conference around the issues underlying the themes addressed by the paper.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Theatre research conference (York) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 50 people attended the lecture, which stimulated discussion about the work

I was invited to the TaPRA conference in 2014 as well as to other events including Networked Bodies at Waterman Arts Centre
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description telematic workshops 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact I ran several series workshops at Central School of Speech and Drama between 2010 and 2014 in the development of techniques and artistic strategies for telematic performance. These were open to students at the School, alumni, established performers with my own company, and others. They fostered an interest in pursuing telematic work in different contexts outside of the school.

From the large number of participants many retained an interest as an informal group that developed and performed several pieces at the School and elsewhere. They also contributed to the making of the book 'Dissolved' in 2013. The interest generated has led to several applications to work with the company Station House Opera in its telematic productions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011,2012,2013,2014