European Theatre Lab: Digital Theatre, a Documentary

Message from Zigmagora. Message from the future. Hello everyone. Oh, is it allowed to say hello? I hope it’s not considered unethical to greet each other? Technology is not the technology that some mean aliens have dropped on our planet, and now we have to deal with it, every little piece of technology on this planet has been invented by us humans. Because we have dreams, we have visions behind it. The challenge of the digital new era for the theatre is a really big issue. We developed this ETC Lab Digital Project because we think that we need to have some shared space between researchers, scientists, developers and performers, directors, artists. I think for me the interesting thing about the project is that although you start from artistic intentions, it actually allows you to find new ways of working interdisciplinary. And allows you to step out of the old process and find new ways of working together which, ultimately, will lead to innovation. In my concept, Zigmagora
is a sort of computer running, directing the future. So democracy is useless
because computers have resolved all problems for work, for water, for education,
for everything. For the money. Everything is under control, so people don’t need to meet, don’t need to have elections. It was a big challenge with the actors to work on this virtual reality because the message they receive come from the future. It’s not real people. So they have to speak with this sort of hologram, and the audience has to be part of the game. With their iPhone they have a virtual
presence, so they can see that the actor is speaking with somebody coming from
the future. The challenge for using technology in theatre is to develop a
new form of digital dramaturgy. That means technology should not be an
accidental gimmick but should be necessary for the drama and for this theatrical event. Digital dramaturgy can help to bring artists and technology together, and people. And in the very end, people and
people. The concept was actually very simple So what is when we are taking the
mobile phones which are actually disturbing a performance? In usual performances, we have analog performances, this mobile phone would disturb the
communication process. So how do we open up that and invite and embrace that process? For each city, you can build your own kind of scenario within the concept of Zigmagora. And with the help of this admin panel, you can do it remotely. For example somebody from Tbilisi can configure a session for Karlsruhe, or somebody in Nancy can configure a session for Oslo. Because it’s all in the web you can do it remotely, and then test it on the spot. So with the app we could take different locations, pin them in different cities
and apply different tasks. So on the screen you see the co-creation
environment where the users and the environment actually sent a message to
Zigmagora and Zigmagora comes here as a “coup de théâtre” in person onstage. Living in Belgium and with many
languages on such a small space we have been practicing surtitling for a long moment and when the idea was presented to us by Théâtre de Liège and Teatrul National Craiova, that we would be a part of that project on surtitling, we were curious and enthusiastic to see how technology could help further up that project. We have the project as a company to bring a different languages together on the stage to see what can be understood when you do not understand everything that is said. Together with the project of
Liège and Craiova, the aim was to develop a surtitling tool that would be
triggered by voice recognition. So the device does not translate on the spot, that is far beyond the technological possibilities right now. Mainly because surtitling has to be almost simultaneous to the sound production of the actor. I think that it is a very important to
bring the new generation and for the theatre, it’s what happened during the performances we had in Craiova that a lot of young audience came to see the show and that with the help of new technologies, we can speak their
language. In the frame of the European Theatre
Convention we developed the beautiful project of cooperation with Det Norske Teatret. Erik Ulfsby directed the play “Peer Gynt” in Zagreb using the new
technologies and I directed Miroslaw Krleža’s play “Kraljevo”. here in Det Norske Teatret. The topic was to develop the new situations for the rehearsals and for the representations, based on digital technologies, especially in the sound equipment. So both Erik and me, with the
with the professors, with the engineers, we developed the special machines
who can transform the voices and then we integrated the new technologies in the frame of the theatre who is the mixture between traditional drama speaking
theatre and the very physical theatre, expressive, like a post drama
theatre. We gave this as an assignment to the students. So we gave them two snippets of text from “Peer Gynt” that’s been staged in Croatia and “The King’s Fair” has been staged here at Det Norske. These ideas were then
presented to the theatres and some of the ideas floated to the top and one of them was to use motion sensor technology. The idea behind this is really
to connect sound to the actor onstage. That the actor can him or
herself can manipulate or produce sound just by using their bodies. What I find very interesting about this
project is the kind of impacts that European projects like the European Theater Lab can have also at a national level on each of the theatres, each of the national structure in terms of how they could redevelop some form of partnership with local universities, research centres, scientists or technical
organisations. And also how it impacted the way they are working internally. So bringing maybe more links between technicians, sound designers, artistic direction, communication… So this is also an interesting form of
impact which has been somehow made possible throughout the European Theatre Lab project. I think that since Romans and Greeks, we are still the same. We are still the same with fear, hate, love, power problems. What changes is the technology.
Now we can fly, we can phone everywhere, and we know that big brother is
watching you, and hearing you. That’s the only change. But the man is still the same. He’s born, he lives and he is going to die. So we already have the same problem and we mustn’t think that new technology is going to solve our problem. The way how they were able master it, this is incredible. But I think the most exciting is that they have been producing not only inspiring projects, but projects that are really showing next possibilities, next steps and new directions. I think it’s very important to go
in this direction even further and maybe even to start to think of this collaboration in a more extended way, where it’s no longer just about how to bring technology onto the stage, into theatre, but maybe even more: how can we bring theatre, the qualities and the expertise
of theatre, into technology? How can theatre help us to develop the technology in a way that the future that is coming out of it is a future that we would really like. A future where we want to live in.

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