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ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY (RSC) AND MAGIC LEAP WELCOME THE FIRST DIGITAL THEATRE FELLOWS

The RSC and spatial computing pioneer Magic Leap have given six individuals the opportunity to discover the future of digital theatre through their first ever Fellowships programme.

Since announcing the initiative in October, six fellows*: Thomas Buckley; Sharon Clark; Lou Doye; James Horn; Zoë O’Shea and James Simpson have been chosen to explore the future of theatre innovation and what that could mean for audiences in the future. 

The Fellows have a range of experience including playwright, producer, game artist and installation artist. As part of the one-year Fellowship they will receive expert input from the RSC and Magic Leap technologists, plus from university partners i2 media research Limited at Goldsmiths University of London and the University of Portsmouth.  Throughout the Fellowship they will cover everything from dramaturgy and stage design to user experience, audience insight and developer skills, building on their existing experience and knowledge. 

Each Fellow will benefit from a year’s long programme, including a week residency at Magic Leap exploring their technology, skills and expertise, and with the RSC working alongside their creative teams.

The results of the R&D will shape the next stage of the RSC and Magic Leap partnership, including the development of major projects such as creating large-scale theatre performances using spatial computing. 

The journey will be followed through a series of blogs led by innovation foundation, Nesta, allowing the knowledge gained to be shared throughout the creative industries https://www.nesta.org.uk/blog/mixed-reality-theatre-new-ways-play-reality/

Sarah Ellis, RSC Director of Digital Development, said about the partnership:

“We wanted to find the next generation of creative technologists who can help us to change the face of live performance experiences for people around the world.  The six Fellows bring a huge amount of experience and knowledge to the project and we are very excited to work with them to discover what’s next for audiences in terms of digital theatre experiences and how storytelling can be brought to life.” 

Andy Lanning, Magic Leap Executive Creative Director, added:

"Magic Leap is proud and tremendously excited to be supporting the Fellowship Program. We are looking forward to seeing what the Fellows can create using Magic Leap's spatial computing and technology alongside our wonderful collaborators; the Royal Shakespeare Company, i2 Media and the University of Portsmouth. Our hope is that this pioneering program will help shape and create new opportunities for future students and new roles for future employment in this developing sector."

FELLOW BIOGRAPHIES* 

Thomas Buckley, Brighton  

Thomas is an installation artist creating large scale projection and sculpture work. He’s interested in where tech and humanity meet and makes spaces that inspire curiosity and discovery, he runs frequent mixology classes in self-made immersive spaces. He says - “Recently I’ve been exploring spaces that become stronger through human experience, creating work that allows us to feel re-connected and human in digital surroundings. I have a passion for accessible art and believe we should design beautifully for everyone.” Thomas also has a passion for nature which has lead him to study and rear exotic butterfly and moth species. He is originally from North Wales. 

Sharon Clark, Bristol   

Sharon is a playwright, dramaturge and Creative Director of Raucous, an immersive theatre company that fuses live performance, music, film and creative digital technology (raucous.org.uk). For Raucous she wrote and developed The Stick House and Ice Road. In terms of playwriting she has worked with Theatre 503, National Theatre Studio, the Arcola, the New Diorama, Theatre West, Bath Theatre Royal, Bristol Old Vic and Watford Palace Theatre. She is a resident at Bristol's renowned Pervasive Media Studio and recently worked with Aardman Animations on the BBC virtual reality film, Is Anna Okay? She was awarded a Bruntwood prize for her play, Plow, and her plays have been shortlisted for the Yale Drama Prize, the National Theatre Playwright’s Award and the PapaTango Prize. In 2018 she was awarded a Fellowship with the South West Creative Technology Network exploring advancements in immersion and performance. Sharon is from Stratford-upon-Avon.

 Lou Doye, Portsmouth

Lou is a producer, originally trained at London Contemporary Dance School, Lou Doye became a producer to generate novel and innovate audience experiences using new technologies. She worked for Chichester Festival Theatre, and became an artistic director of The Theatre Royal Portsmouth before setting up her own company to explore new imaginative territories with XR. Lou spent her childhood in Hampshire.

 James Horn, Warwick

James studied Drama at Aberystwyth University, where he founded the experimental Word Theatre Company in 1996. Moving to Warwick in 1999 he began his training as a game artist, joining Codemasters in 2002. Following the award-winning Colin McRae: DiRT in 2007, James moved to FreeStyleGames and was a part of the team creating DJ Hero 1 and 2. In 2012, James established the art department at startup mobile developer Kwalee whilst also art directing all their mobile games. In 2016, he moved to join Pixel Toys as Lead Artist, creating the hit VR game Drop Dead on Oculus platforms and the highly acclaimed Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Realm War. James is from Stratford-upon-Avon.

 Zoë O’Shea, London

Following her passion for digital games, Zoë has worked in a variety of artistic, creative and technical roles since moving to the UK from Dublin, Ireland.  She is conducting her PhD in Digital Games at Goldsmiths University of London, supervised by Prof. Jonny Freeman (i2 Media Research) working at the intersection between game design and player psychology. Zoë is excited to collaborate with the other Fellows, RSC, Magic Leap and the university partners to explore new opportunities developing experiences that create joy for others.

 James Simpson, London

James has spent the last 10 years creating 3d visualisations at the Royal Opera House and has worked on some of the world’s biggest and most exciting projects including The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Ceremonies, Miss Saigon and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. He has been a pioneer in developing immersive media tools for theatre design visualisation and is currently undertaking a part-time PhD in visualisation for theatre design at Rose Bruford College and University of East London. He was a runner up for the Microsoft/Unity Hololens Competition and his app Holomachine also won highly commended in the Plasa Awards for Innovation. He was also nominated for T3 Tech Innovator of the year 2018 and won Immersive Pioneer Of The Year by Virtual Perceptions.

 — Ends —

For further information on the RSC/Magic Leap partnership, please contact jane.ellis@rsc.org.uk

Notes to Editors

About Arts Council England - Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. www.artscouncil.org.uk

Royal Shakespeare Company - Royal Shakespeare Company creates theatre at its best, made in Stratford-upon-Avon and shared around the world.  We produce an inspirational artistic programme each year, setting Shakespeare in context, alongside the work of his contemporaries and today’s writers. 

Everyone at the RSC - from actors to armourers, musicians to technicians - plays a part in creating the world you see on stage.  All our productions begin life at our Stratford workshops and theatres and we bring them to the widest possible audience through our touring, residencies, live broadcasts and online activity. So wherever you experience the RSC, you experience work made in Shakespeare’s home town. 

We have trained generations of the very best theatre makers and we continue to nurture the talent of the future. We encourage everyone to enjoy a lifelong relationship with Shakespeare and live theatre.  We reach 530,000 children and young people annually through our education work, transforming their experiences in the classroom, in performance and online.  Registered charity no. 212481 www.rsc.org.uk.

Magic Leap’s mission is to harmonize people and technology to create a better, more unified world. Magic Leap’s team of creatives and technologists are pioneering the future of computing, having launched the Magic Leap One, a lightweight, wearable spatial computer that seamlessly blends the digital and physical worlds. Headquartered in Plantation, Florida, Magic Leap has offices across the globe in Los Angeles, Sunnyvale, Seattle, Austin, Dallas, Zurich, Wellington and Tel Aviv.

About i2 media research Limited is the expert consumer insight and user experience research and strategy consultancy based at Goldsmiths University of London, delivering rigorous research and innovation to business - since 2002. The research base on which i2 was founded is on user experience of immersive media, starting in the 1990s. Fully self-funded through commissioned projects and through collaborative R&D, i2 media has successfully completed more than 250 commissions for clients spanning the commercial, public and third sectors.  i2 media research's measure of presence in immersive media (the ITC-Sense of Presence Inventory, 2001) is licensed for free use in hundreds of academic labs worldwide, and is also licensed for commercial R&D.  Building on this, in 2018, i2 media research partnered with Nesta, for the Digital Catapult, to develop and publish an easy to use immersive UX evaluation toolkit (Evaluating Immersive User Experience and Audience Impact: https://www.digicatapult.org.uk/news-and-views/publication/audience-immersive-report/)  For more information, see http://www.i2mediaresearch.com

University of Portsmouth: The University of Portsmouth excels in research, innovation and teaching in the arts, creative technologies and performance. Working within the university-wide strategic theme of future and emerging technologies, the university's Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries has purpose built technical facilities, lab and performance spaces, and specialises in virtual and augmented reality, motion capture, film, TV and broadcast. The university's current research focuses on the convergence of these technologies and their creative application. Fatherland is an immersive performance piece which brings together the storytelling practices of performance and digital technologies. It is being developed in partnership with Limbik Theatre and has recently received significant development funding and support from Creative XR (Digital Catapult/Arts Council for England) and The National Theatre

About Nesta: Nesta is a global innovation foundation. We back new ideas to tackle the big challenges of our time, making use of our knowledge, networks, funding and skills. We work in partnership with others, including governments, businesses and charities. We are a UK charity that works all over the world, supported by a financial endowment. To find out more visit www.nesta.org.uk

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