Creating a Theatrical Experience on a Virtual Stage

  • Joe GeigelEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10714)


This paper describes the use of virtual and augmented reality, combined with motion capture technologies, to produce virtual theatre: live theatrical performance fully realized and experienced in a virtual space. The virtual theatre dance performance Farewell to Dawn, which was presented in Rochester, NY in December 2016, is used to illustrate and explore affordances of these technologies in terms the liveness, perspective, and social presence.



The author would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their insights, suggestions, and pointers.

Farewell to Dawn is a collaborative effort between the Department of Computer Science, College of Imaging Arts and Science, and the MAGIC Center at RIT along with the Department of Theatre and Dance at Nazareth College. The author would like to extend a special thanks to Andy Phelps, Christopher Egert, and Jennifer Hinton from MAGIC, Heather Roffe from Nazareth, and all of the collaborators listed in the credits below.

This work is partially funded through a seed grant from the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing an Information Sciences at RIT. Thanks to Anne Haake and Pengcheng Shi for their support.

Farewell to Dawn credits:

Dancers: Zhongyuan Fa, Anastasia Pembrook

Choreography: Zhongyuan Fa

Music: Hesham Fouad

Percussion: Peter Ferry

3D Stage Design: Stephen Cerqueira, Quincey Williams, Marla Schweppe

Virtual Stage System: Chirag Chandrakant Salian, Anna Dining, Victoria Mc Gowen, Rasmi Mukula Kapuganti, Felipe Caputo, Joe Geigel

Videography: Anna Dining


  1. 1.
    Ascott, R.: Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art, Technology, and Consciousness. University of California Press, Berkeley (2007)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Birdwhistell, R.: Introduction to Kinesics: An Annotation System for Analysis of Body Motion and Gesture. Louisville University Press, Louisville (1952)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Caputo, F., Mc Gowen, V., Geigel, J., Cerqueira, S., Williams, Q., Schweppe, M., Fa, Z., Pembrook, A., Roffe, H.: Farewell to dawn: a mixed reality dance performance in a virtual space. In: ACM SIGGRAPH 2016 Posters (SIGGRAPH 2016), pp. 49:1–49:2. ACM, New York (2016)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Couldry, N.: Liveness, reality, and the mediated habitus from television to the mobile phone. Commun. Rev. 7(4), 353–361 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Geigel, J., Schweppe, M.: Motion capture for realtime control of virtual actors in live, distributed, theatrical performances. In: Face and Gesture 2011, pp. 774–779, March 2011Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Geigel, J., Schweppe, M., Huynh, D., Johnstone, B.: Adapting a virtual world for theatrical performance. Computer 44(12), 33–38 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Gochfeld, D., Molina, J.: To be with hamlet. In: Di Federico, E., van Houte, N. (eds.) Mixed Reality and the Theatre of the Future: Fresh Perspectives on Arts and New Technologies, pp. 47–55. IETM, Brussels (2017).
  8. 8.
    Hall, E.T.: The Hidden Dimension. Doubleday and Company, New York (1966)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Kilteni, K., Groten, R., Slater, M.: The sense of embodiment in virtual reality. Presence Teleoperators Virtual Environ. 21(4), 373–387 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Knapp, R.B., Jaimovich, J., Coghlan, N.: Measurement of motion and emotion during musical performance. In: 2009 3rd International Conference on Affective Computing and Intelligent Interaction and Workshops, pp. 1–5, September 2009Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Laden, T.M.: Virtual reality and theater come together to a classic David Bowie tune, March 2017.
  12. 12.
    Lee, K.M.: Presence, explicated. Commun. Theor. 14(1), 27–50 (2004)MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Lewis, M.: Bowen virtual theater. In: ACM SIGGRAPH 2003 Web Graphics (SIGGRAPH 2003), p. 1. ACM, New York (2003).
  14. 14.
    Lombard, M., Ditton, T.: At the heart of it all: the concept of presence. J. Comput. Mediated Commun. 3(2), JCMC321 (1997)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Loomis, J.M.: Presence in virtual reality and everyday life: immersion within a world of representation. Presence Teleoperators Virtual Environ. 25(2), 169–174 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Löytönen, T.: Emotions in the everyday life of a dance school: articulating unspoken values. Dance Res. J. 40(1), 17–30 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Matsuba, S.N., Roehl, B.: Bottom, thou art translated: the making of VRML dream. IEEE Comput. Graph. Appl. 19(2), 45–51 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Mennecke, B.E., Triplett, J.L., Hassall, L.M., Conde, Z.J., Heer, R.: An examination of a theory of embodied social presence in virtual worlds. Dec. Sci. 42(2), 413–450 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Moynihan, T.: The lion king musical in VR is an incredible experience, November 2015.
  20. 20.
    Neff, M.: Lessons from the arts: what the performing arts literature can teach us about creating expressive character movement. In: Tanenbaum, J., El-Nasr, M.S., Nixon, M. (eds.) Nonverbal Communication in Virtual Worlds, pp. 123–148. ETC Press, Pittsburgh (2014). Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Ohannessian, K.: Draw me close uses VR, props, and performance to evoke childhood, April 2017. Accessed 29 Apr 2017
  22. 22.
    Parker, J.R.: Theater as virtual reality. In: Tanenbaum, J., El-Nasr, M.S., Nixon, M. (eds.) Nonverbal Communication in Virtual Worlds, pp. 151–174. ETC Press, Pittsburgh (2014). Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Reaney, M.: Virtual scenography: the actor, audience, computer interface. Theatr. Des. Technol. 32, 36–43 (1996)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Reason, M.: Archive or memory? The detritus of live performance. New Theatr. Q. (NTQ) 19(1), 82–89 (2003)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Reeve, C.: Presence in virtual theater. Presence 9(2), 209–213 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Rowe, K.: Crowd-sourcing Shakespeare: screen work and screen play in second life. Shakespear. Stud. 38, 58–67 (2010)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Slater, M., Howell, J., Steed, A., Pertaub, D.P., Garau, M.: Acting in virtual reality. In: Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Collaborative Virtual Environments (CVE 2000), pp. 103–110. ACM, New York (2000).
  28. 28.
    Smith, B.D.: Telematic composition. Ph.D. thesis, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign (2011). aAI3503868Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Sontag, S.: Film and theatre. Tulane Drama Rev. 11(1), 24–37 (1966)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Stierman, C.: Kinotes: mapping musical scales to gestures in a kinect-based interface for musican expression. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, M.Sc thesis University of Amsterdam (2012)Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Sutherland, T.: From (archival) page to (virtual) stage: the virtual vaudeville prototype. Am. Archivist 79(2), 392–416 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Wang, C., Geelhoed, E.N., Stenton, P.P., Cesar, P.: Sensing a live audience. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2014), pp. 1909–1912. ACM, New York (2014).
  33. 33.
    Webb, A.M., Wang, C., Kerne, A., Cesar, P.: Distributed liveness: understanding how new technologies transform performance experiences. In: Proceedings of the 19th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing (CSCW 2016), pp. 432–437. ACM, New York (2016)Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Wilson, G.D.: Psychology for Performing Artists. Whurr Publishers, London (2002)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceRochester Institute of TechnologyRochesterUSA

Personalised recommendations