Dream, a live performance set in a virtual midsummer forest
Dream, a live performance inspired by Shakespeare's masterpiece A Midsummer Night's Dream, will be performed online for nine days from 12 March to 20 March 2021.
A collaboration between the Royal Shakespeare Company, Manchester International Festival, Marshmallow Laser Feast, and the Philharmonia Orchestra, Dream combines the latest virtual reality and video games technologies. It provides a new experience where theatre, music, and technology come together. This new form of online performance is garnering attention, as it allows for the immersive aspect of a live performance without the physical limits of traditional theatre.
About the play
Dream takes place in a midsummer forest lit up by fireflies as clouds gather at dusk. A fairy named Puck invites the audience into the forest, leading to an encounter with friends and an otherworldly journey. Puck must work with his friends to restore the forest before a spell is broken, facing various setbacks along the way.
Friday 12 March - Saturday 20 March 2021
*Please check the Dream official website for the start times.
How to watch
There are two types of tickets to choose from. The first is free and is for viewing only. For this option, audience members will simply watch the 50-minute performance, without interactions. The other is £10 and allows audience members to actively participate and influence the narrative throughout. For example, viewers can become one of the fireflies, lighting up the forest and helping guide Puck.
Both the free and paid tickets are available on the Dream official website:
- Click "Get ticket" in the upper right corner of the official website
- Click "Check my device"
- Select "Audience Plus" (paid) or "Audience" (free)
- You will be taken to the Royal Shakespeare Company website, where you can select a date and time
The technology behind Dream
Audience participation is enabled through touch screen, trackpad, and mouse movements. For example, the audience can click with their mouse at certain points in the play, which activates firefly lights that take Puck through the forest.
The actors perform in front of an LED background depicting a fantastic world. Through motion capture and facial rigging technology, their body movements and facial expressions are projected in real-time as virtual avatars.
The music used in Dream is also manipulated in real-time. The Philharmonia Orchestra's soundtrack uses interactive technology that changes depending on the actor’s movements.
Audience of the Future
Dream is the culmination of a major piece of research and development exploring how audiences of the future will experience live performance.
Fifteen specialist organisations and pioneers in immersive technology have brought together their expertise in theatre and performance, the music industry, video production, gaming and the research sector to explore what it means to perform live using technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality.
The project is funded within the Audience of the Future programme by UK Research and Innovation through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.