An exploration of Motion Capture Technology in Theatre

An exploration of Motion Capture Technology in theatre

Spymonkey in the Motion Capture Suite, University of Portsmouth
Spymonkey in the Motion Capture Suite, University of Portsmouth
Laura Doye, Artistic Director New Theatre Royal

by Laura Doye, Creative Director of New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth

Date Published: 18 October 2017

Over the years the world of theatre has changed dramatically. New technologies have worked their way onto the boards to help improve lighting, sound and special effects but increasingly they are having an effect on the way we direct and perform. This posed us with all kinds of questions, particularly how can we use this technology to re-imagine what's possible on stage?

Never one to be satisfied with unanswered questions, here at New Theatre Royal we partnered with the University of Portsmouth and The Old Market in Brighton – who are both known for their ground-breaking use of technology, to investigate how this new creative technology is likely to change over the coming years and how it will impact the way we approach theatre.

Building upon the work of The Old Market’s TomTech, a cutting edge programme that supports artists and the exploration of emerging technologies, the project was funded by Arts Council England and sought to shine a light on Motion Capture Technology.

As we all know, Motion Capture technology has been a key component of the film and game industries for a while, but we found that its potential within live performance is largely unexplored. With this in mind, we had the idea to give two up-and-coming theatre companies the opportunity to participate in a week long residency in the Motion Capture Suite at University of Portsmouth and in our development studios at New Theatre Royal, to explore the creative implications of real-time motion capture technology and its place in the future of live entertainment.

Free from the stress of production cycles, this residency gave the companies’ free reign to explore the endless opportunities the technology offers – from animating non-humanoid characters to exploring the relationship between a live actor and one performing through an avatar.

The exploration and introduction of these technologies into theatre is an exciting way to give artists new tools to move with the times and also explore how technology could change the way we consume stories. We are delighted with the results of our first residency and are looking forward to further exploring and watching how these new mediums will change the way we experience live performance both on stage and in the audience in the future.

A huge driving force for the creative artists and us is that, as the RSC has shown, traditional theatre audiences appreciate when artists push the boundaries and bring in new elements to the stage. We also strongly believe that combining new and old entertainment techniques will help us and other theatres to involve a new generation of audiences in art and culture. For the younger generation, technology is everywhere. So incorporating this in to experimental theatre provides an exciting platform for artists to create new narrative structures and draw in potential new audiences to our much-loved world of live entertainment.

Our partnership marked the beginning of our Creative Technology Gateway, an official term for our artistic vision to bring artists and technologists together in a new way to find innovative and exciting ways to cross the boundaries of live performance and engage theatre audiences.

For more information on this creative partnership visit


Limbik Theatre, Motion Capture Residency
Limbik Theatre, Motion Capture Residency
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