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Royal Shakespeare Company Puts Technology in the Spotlight

The Royal Shakespeare Company and The Imaginarium Studios incorporated Intel technology into a tech-infused production of The Tempest. This incarnation of Shakespeare’s magical fantasy renders a digital character, Ariel the sprite, live on stage. Typically reserved for pre-recorded content, the performance capture technology developed by Andy Serkis’ The Imaginarium Studios and powered by Intel allows the digital “character” to interact with other actors on stage in real time.

The actor playing Ariel wears a suit equipped with motion sensors. The character is rendered in real time by custom-built workstations powered by Intel Xeon processors that map all of the sensor data onto a digital avatar and then take that information and pump it out to 27 projectors placed strategically throughout the theater. The projections allow Ariel to transform into several different characters during the show.

Gregory Doran, artistic director at the Royal Shakespeare Company, likens his experience here with being given a new paint box but not any limitations on how it can be used. “I suspect there will be a whole new way of thinking about how to create Shakespeare … no longer defined by the parameters of a traditional auditorium,” he concludes.

The Tempest will play at the Barbican Theatre in London from June 30 to Aug. 18. The play is also being broadcast as part of the RSC’s Live from Stratford-upon-Avon program to cinemas in the U.K. and Europe. For more information, visit www.rsc.org.uk.

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