Shakespeare via Portal

Ok, this is pretty cool.  You want to perform Shakespeare.  So does your buddy, only he’s 1600 miles away.  Not a problem! Coventry University and University of Tampere in Finland have created a giant window where the actors can see each other.

In a world of Facetime and Google Hangouts I suppose the underlying technology is not that exciting, but the application is very cool.  CoulProspero, Miranda and Ariel from The Tempest by William Shakespeared I do the same thing with my iPad?  No, not really. We’re talking about full body images, right there on the stage.  Imagine if Sirius Black fell through the curtain in whatever Harry Potter book that was, only now he’s standing there looking out at you from the other side, and you can have a conversation. Neat!  I suppose I could have come up with a more apt Shakespeare reference, but J.K.Rowling’s the one that gave us that easy example :).

What are the practical limits?

The article made it sound like one side was doing the performing and the other was doing some critiquing, but the video shows them interacting in the dialogue.  But that of course begs the question of physical interaction.  Does the whole thing go out the window when you’re supposed to run the virtual player through with an unbated and envenomed blade?

Maybe we could use it for ghosts, or other ayrie spirits? How about Caesar’s ghost, or Hamlet’s father?  I guess I’d have to see it. What’s coming to mind is that if it’s just a flat plane, can you only see the actor straight on?  How do you meaningfully project that to the audience?  I suppose we could get to the point where we put it on a little remote control scooter and drive it around the stage (there are iPad robots that do exactly that), but would that be ridiculously corny?  Maybe if we just embed it into the back wall and then treat it like part of the scenery?  I’ve never directed a Shakespeare production, I’m just brainstorming randomly.

How would you use this?

What do you think?  If you had this technology, Shakespeare directors, how might you use it?  (Obviously it’s a new thing and we don’t know the limits of it – so assume there aren’t any!)

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