Simulcast gets thumbs up from Opera

May 14 cover.inddOpera magazine reviewed the interactive simulcast of “Death and the Powers” and pronounced that this experiment in using smartphone technology to enhance the cinematic viewing experience has “huge potential for the technologically engaged operatic culture that Machover continues to pioneer.”

Read the full review here.

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Gizmodo visits Sleep No More NYC

The popular technology blog Gizomodo sent an intrepid reporter to try out the enhanced Sleep No More experience during its beta test run. The result is this rich description of getting lost inside the creepy McKittrick Hotel. Donning a mask that on occasion transmits urgent, mysterious messages to her, she slowly realizes that the set is filled with hidden, interactive zones connecting her to an unseen online companion. This report much more accurately conveys the nature of this immersive theater experience than did the New York Times article last week in which the reporter mostly kvetched about how painful it was to wear the mask (which unfortunately was not designed to be worn over eyeglasses).

Read the full article: Sleep No More: What It’s Like Inside the World’s Most Interactive Play

Courtesy of Gizmodo

Punchdrunk on its Media Lab collaboration

Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More has been connecting real world and online participants through digital channels. Photograph: Punchdrunk

“I have just come to the end of two of the most exciting (and longest) weeks of my career,” writes Peter Higgin, enrichment director at Punchdrunk. Writing in The Guardian, Higgin describes the culmination of the U.K. theater group’s collaboration with our team at the MIT Media Lab to create an online enhancement for the hit New York City theater experience, Sleep No More. Opened just over one year ago, Sleep No More is “an immersive retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, inspired by Hitchcock and set in a 1930s film noir world,” in Higgin’s words.

The project’s aim was “to connect a live Sleep No More audience member to an online companion,” Higgin explains. “We wanted to see if we could create an online experience which lived up to the visceral intensity of the live show and facilitate a shared experience which takes place in both the performance space and a remote user’s location.” The team was awarded a grant from the Nesta Digital R&D fund to develop the project.

The team was embedded in the project for the past several months. Ultimately, they ran over 8,000 feet of cable around the six-story site, creating a network across the building to live stream sound and audio content to both live and online participants. A combination of 10 RFID readers and 50 Bluetooth devices enabled them to track participants’ progress through the space.

During the week of May 14-19, the team ran a live test. “To say it was a glowing success would be inaccurate,” writes Higgin. ” – we were treading a fine line between game and experience, in an already delicately balanced performance.”

“Practically speaking we had too little time, with our Beta testing rolling all too closely into the actual live test period,” Higgins says. “The technology was beginning to do what it should by the end of the week and we found ourselves beginning to make exciting discoveries just as we had to pack up.” Many questions remain to be worked out, Higgins says:

Was it a game? Could the experience be solved? What was my mission? Did you feel connected? Did we need to make things more linear and visible? These were all questions that we have only just begun to interrogate.

We are breathlessly waiting to find out what happens next…

Read the full article: The Guardian: Innovation in arts and culture #4: Punchdrunk – Sleep No More

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Opera of the Future at Sleep No More NYC

Photo by Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

At last the story can be told! For the past several months, the Opera of the Future team has been cranking away on a top-secret project to create an enhanced version of Sleep No More, the runaway hit theater experience currently playing in New York City. Last week, they beta tested the system with live audience members. Each was paired with an online participant. The twist: Neither knew about the other. We’re not giving away too much by revealing that bit of information, because there remains so much for participants to discover once they are inside the world of Sleep No More. The New York Times Arts blogger Dave Itzkoff reported on his experience in yesterday’s New York Times: A Guinea Pig’s Night at the Theater.

If you haven’t seen Sleep No More, we highly recommend it. Some links:

Sleep No More NYC

New York Times – Slide show

New York Times Interactive – Something Wicked