Virtual Theatre and the SL Shakespeare Company

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Powerpoint of SL Shakespeare Company's NAST Conference presentation.

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Virtual Theatre and the SL Shakespeare Company

  1. 1. the A Brief Overview
  2. 2. SL Shakesp e ar e Co mp a n y Virtual worlds: Multiuser “worlds” that exist in computer-simulated “virtual reality”  Often contains analogues of the real world, such as currency and similar spatial relations  Current Mainstream Implementations: User interacts in world represented by his/her avatar  Different virtual worlds have different features, but communication medium present in all.  Popular v.w.’s: ActiveWorlds, World of Kaneva, World of Warcraft, The Sims Online, Second Life  Virtual Theatre: theatrical performances in virtual worlds  Manifestation: Actors control avatars to tell a story, as witnessed by an audience of avatars  No longer location dependent, globally accessible anywhere with an Internet connection  More easily create immersive settings for theatrical presentations, can customize rules of reality.  Puppetry Analogy  Actor as represented by an avatar puppet  Keystrokes in lieu of strings to control the avatar  (Tangled strings manifest as virtual world server/software congestion!) 
  3. 3. SL Shakesp e ar e Co mp a n y  Second Life (SL) is an immersive Stats (as of late 2008) • Over 15 million registered users open-ended virtual world imagined • ~50,000 online simultaneously • US$10 million exchanged by and created by its users. monthly on LindeX Extensive inworld commerce system  Global, communal, effective social networking platform.  Users register for a unique avatar name, purchase land or  islands to establish venues with a unique address (SLurl) Second Life as the “metaverse” 
  4. 4. SL Shakesp e ar e Co mp a n y  Actor: represented by avatar in Second Life (Avatar: “virtual body” of participant)  Dependent on connective interface (e.g., keyboard, gamepad, OCZ nia, custom software)  Basic Implementations of Theatre Avatar moves/activates things directly via arrow keys and mouse-clicks, minimal scripted support.   Combination of movement with animations create new choreography  Speech via text chat, media stream, or SL Voice  Technology-guided Implementations of Theatre Artificial intelligence used to present a sequence of scripted behavior.   Speech via text chat, media stream, or SL Voice (Virtual Ventriloquism)  Hybrid  Voice acting by real humans, mixed with avatars guided by (programmatic) scripts.
  5. 5. SL Shakesp e ar e Co mp a n y  Not a teleplay: Not merely about actors being separated by long distances, but actually, a play that exists in virtual reality—particularly, the metaverse, a virtual world with analogues to the real world, such as its own currency and economy, its own culture and intelligentsia, etc.  Not a broadcast medium, per se: Limitations in number of avatars in a single local venue similar to a RL theatre, not easy to record a high quality film of an event. When broadcast, in the traditional sense, as a raster video, the performance loses its scope.  Not just animation: The animation medium is premeditated, requiring that each frame of the spiel be planned for or created in advance. When you have an avatar on a virtual stage, it’s definitely a live medium, where anything can happen once showtime starts!
  6. 6. SL Shakesp e ar e Co mp a n y  Second Life is new; the platform is experimental.  Possibilities  SL, as is, can facilitate high customization in avatar and set design, recognizably emulate RL productions  Innovative Possibilities  Transparent Interface: Natural movements via customized browser for real-time motion capture streaming animation.  Holographic projections
  7. 7. SL Shakesp e ar e Co mp a n y  The SL Shakespeare Company (SLSC) is  a professional theatre company based in SL.  curator of the most historically accurate theatres and architecture relating to William Shakespeare in virtual worlds.  The SLSC is an independent organization.  Fiscal Sponsor: sLiterary, Inc. (NPO, arts in virtual worlds)  Not affiliated with Linden Lab (Second Life)  Not affiliated with any one institution, though many have participated, and all are welcome to participate.  Origins  Founded in 2007 by Ina Centaur  Composed entirely of virtual staff recruited from the user communities of Second Life, and the Internet.
  8. 8. SL Shakesp e ar e Co mp a n y  Performance Environment  SL Globe Theatre To-Scale replica of Shakespeare’s second Globe Theatre   Set in the midst of an an arts mecca in virtual worlds. Blackfriars Theatre  World’s only complete replica of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre.   Perfect for Elizabethan-style black box theatre.  Networking, Publicity, and Outreach  Utilizes the talented network of artists and creators, who are the merchants of SL  Thrives in the “artistic meritocracy” of SL  Grassroots-based publicity, with focus on inworld communities.  SL reaches to all econ-sectors, around the world. Many saw their first Shakespearean play on SL.
  9. 9. SL Shakesp e ar e Co mp a n y  Main: A single full-length Shakespearean play/year  Several smaller productions other than the main play  RSC Methods of scansion/analysis with rigorous rehearsals  Open auditions, recruit from SL.  Most actors have never met in RL.  Performed scenes from Hamlet in our pilot year 2007  Elizabethan-era production  Created avatars based on photos submitted by actors  Shown in B&W are imagery of avatars created based on actors
  10. 10. SL Shakesp e ar e Co mp a n y  Twelfth Night is our main Shakespearean production for ’09  Early work started in Summer of 2008, as a full-costumed tag-team staged reading series of the entire play.  Act 1 (full ensemble) is currently an open-ended run.  Acts 2, 3, 4 & 5 will open in June, September, and November  Set in the “Generic Past,” archetypal character designs  The Domain of Our Theatre is an Evolving Virtual World  Second Life is constantly evolving and changing based on what its users do. The world itself is a very live medium.  Live Demo: Scene from Twelfth Night: Act 1, Scene 2

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