This year saw the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and, so far, London has pulled out all the stops to commemorate and celebrate the literary genius (including a total redesign of TfL’s Underground map, which replaced station names with Shakespeare’s plays). But perhaps the most spectacular and innovative gesture towards the great playwright comes from the Royal Shakespeare Company. They’ve teamed up with Intel and leading performance capture company, the Imaginarium Studios, to put on one of the most impressive performances of The Tempest that the world has ever seen.
If you can’t remember the last time you scrubbed up on Shakespeare’s ultimate tragic comedy, you’ll find that productions of The Tempest have come on a long way since you were at school (and certainly since its first performance in 1610). With the help of performance-capture technology, the RSC have manage to render Ariel, the mystical sprite, to life – right there on stage. In the past, this type of technology has been famously implemented for both films and gaming; it captures the facial expressions and movements of actors in order to create incredible, complex avatars. Now, after a year of in-depth research, RSC, Intel and The Imaginarium developed a way to bring these digital avatars to life in real-time, meaning that they can also interact with live actors on stage.
Intel’s role in producing a first-of-its-kind performance has effectively resulted in an awe-inspiring collision of cutting-edge technology and the Bard’s historically groundbreaking imagination. The Tempest, Ariel, Prospero’s Island and the whole mystical world, have been given the means and ammunition to be brought to life like never before. We’ve always thought Mr Shakespeare was pretty damn cool, but it seems his posthumous awesome-factor has now gone off the charts. You can see a bit of the magic in action below:
The Tempest is being performed at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon until 21 January 2017 and will transfer to the Barbican Theatre in London to play from 30 June to 18 August 2017. The play will also be broadcast as part of the RSC’s ‘Live From Stratford-upon-Avon’ programme to cinemas in the UK and Europe on 11 January 2017 and in encore screenings worldwide. Find out more: www.rsc.org.uk