NEWS: Royal Shakespeare Company announce partnership with US start-up, Magic Leap

The Royal Shakespeare Company have announced they will partner with the US-based technology company, Magic Leap to investigate the notion of providing new theatrical experiences using special computing technologies and have committed to launching two fellowships for students or recent graduates beginning in the Autumn of 2018.

With the increase in popularity of digital platforms and augmented reality, Magic Leap aims to explore how art, storytelling and interactions with our environment can be brought together using spatial computing – a technology with the ability to detect and interact with the environment to allow our virtual surroundings to come alive. 

Gregory Doran, RSC Artistic Director, said: “We are very excited about our partnership with Magic Leap and the plans we have to collaborate together over the forthcoming years. We are committed to finding new ways for people to experience theatre and Shakespeare, placing the craft of theatre-making in new contexts and keeping live performance at the cutting edge of the 21st century. This partnership will build on our many years of innovation through performance and our pioneering digital work. I am delighted that this journey begins with an opportunity for young people to join us as we explore the vast opportunities that spatial computing will open up to us.”

Being delivered in partnership with a yet to be announced UK university, the fellowship will be offered out to two students to form part of their existing studies and will see them building spatial technologies that can be applied to theatre and live performance. The learning and development will be based at the RSC itself and students will be presented with a unique opportunity to implement some of their technology developments to projects arising from the partnership.

Andy Lanning, Executive Creative Director, Magic Leap Studios, said: “At Magic Leap, we’ve brought together artists and engineers, dreamers and explorers, scientists and storytellers, who are just beginning to test the limits of a world where digital content is freed from behind screens and brought into your physical environment. We’re thrilled to embark on this journey with RSC and two visionary Fellows, who will define the medium and be encouraged to bring their existing knowledge and experience to take on the challenge of delivering the theatre experience on this next computing platform.”

The team plan to chart their experiences in a series of blogs in collaboration with Nesta, a UK-base innovation foundation.

On news of the partnership breaking, Hasan Bakhshi, Executive Director, Creative Economy and Data Analytics, Nesta, said: “New advances in spatial computing will integrate the physical and digital in a way that could revolutionise cultural experiences for the public. I’m delighted that Nesta will work with the RSC and Magic Leap to ensure what is learned from this R&D is shared with the wider cultural sector.”

By applying their notions and findings to how audiences experience theatre, the RSC and Magic Leap hope to test for new ways of making these experiences unforgettable in what looks to be an exciting journey that we can’t wait to follow.

Nicole Craft | Image: RSC

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