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Theatre in a Digital Accelerator

June 2013:  The digital space is hot and throbbing. The number of digital startups in London mushrooms as enterpreneurs jump into the space with new concepts, products and business models. It’s the second wave, albeit, more sober after the Wild West era of hyperinflated valuations at the turn of the century.

Innovation Warehouse has generously given LoNyLa/TimeWave the use of their event space to launch the festival. In the past few weeks, British theatre artists and digital entrepreneurs have found themselves working side-by-side on occasion.

Unlike theatre, however, the digital space in London is distinctly international. Tiptoe through the working areas of Innovation Warehouse and you’ll hear accents from every node on the planet – India, New Zealand, Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Austria. You may even detect a British or American accent in this heady mix. Because people from different cultures work and collaborate in close vicinity, accelerators are fertile environments for new ideas and solutions.

On the one hand, the TimeWave journey exposes theatre artists to the boldness and drive of this international community. On the other, artists tend to be an imaginative and daring group. They’re not strangers to living on the edge. The cross fertilization of these two groups can serve both communities in productive ways.

As per nuts and bolts, lighting designer Simon Gethin Thomas had to figure out how to create a theatre space in the middle of a wired warehouse!

TimeWaveUK at Innovation Warehouse

Using his own software, Simon simulated the space at Innovation Warehouse and designed the theatre for the festival.

We wanted it to be raw, simple and sleek. A large rear view projection screen would be the “set.” Because the complexity of the TimeWave plays occurs on screen, a traditional set can actually detract from the narrative flow of a performance.

Directors may use simple props – table or chair – but not much more. Since we’re experimenting with a hybrid medium, the artists have to shuffle between theatre and film/television.


Simon Gethin Thomas

The naturalism of film translates well on screen. However, if one actor is on screen and the other actor is live on stage, how does that juxtaposition affect the overall performance?

Next steps are to test the technical set-up with New York City and Los Angeles. These two cities need to stream in their performances to the London event in a seamless way.

As per the experienced Beatriz Cabur, a Spanish theatre-maker, she has just wrapped “Interteatro,” a theatrical performance connecting Milan and Madrid. She mixed live video streams with recorded video via the Vidyo telepresence platform. Her TimeWave piece, “The Plane,” will be streaming in a cast from New York City and Madrid.

While we hook up multiple cameras to three MacBook Pros in the middle of Innovation Warehouse, none of the digital entrepreneurs blink. To these pioneers, it’s business as usual.