The SL Shakespeare Company (SSC) integrates technology with professional rich content. Each play will be performed in a way that should excite both the zealous Shakespeare fan and the die-hard technologist. While the stage outfits may be recycled, the technology will likely continue to evolve with each new play.
Of course, the core of the fun rests in this creed: All of SSC’s inworld shows in 2008ff will be performed live.
For our first play, Hamlet, we will be using state-of-the-art bot technology to represent the actors inworld. Different kinds of bots would be used, and they are best broken into two general categories. InfoBots, which are autonomous and feed directly on encoded data, and AvaBots, which require real time live input from actors to function. The latter kind of bots, which would fit on the live stage, would allow the actors to focus on their voice roles. Initially, we would synchronize the bots to the actor’s lines for animations and gestures pertinent to the line. Plans of developing a standalone client with lipsynch and realtime motion-capture support feeding from an external server, similar to SL voice, are also underway. For both possibilities, bot-serialization would also eliminate the possibility of an actor or bot’s crashing from affecting the play.
In our main location, the four-sim bridge-corners starting at the SL Shakespeare Company’s plot on the southwest corner of sLiterary, actors would be able to ad lib according to will or that of the audience.
However, since we are using technology that can potentially be replicated ad infinitum, we can have an arbitrary number of affiliate sites. Both 4-sims and 1-sim affiliates would be able to participate. A 4-sim affiliate would have the whole enchilada (minus the potential for the actor’s ad-libbing from offsite audience interaction), with actor-bots and a voice stream from the main site. A 1-sim affiliate would have a simulcast stream on a screen on the stage of the old SL Globe Theatre (1024m2 footprint).
In addition, we will also be expecting a degree of non-verbal audience interaction. Back in Shakespeare’s days, the audience often threw hazelnuts and chickenbones on the stage during a play. Thus, for one method of non-verbal interaction, we will be providing attachments that would allow the audience to launch various temporary objects and particles onstage (or wherever they aim!). Conversely, those onstage would be able to interact with the audience in more than just verbal ways. For example, in scenes where blood is involved, quite a bit of gore may be flung onto the audience a la particles. Similarly, in scenes involving water, the front row should definitely be prepared for a splash!
Just as in Shakespeare’s era, where groundbreaking entire theatres were built based on the best setup in former more-peripatetic ad-hoc “theatres” (on the bar in a pub, or in the general area of an inn), our theatre will be built based on both a combination of lessons learned from previous SL theatre productions and the technological and professional design support possible only from the best.
Please check back here frequently for updates as we develop our unique technology.