Coventry University’s Telepresence in Theatre with Virtual Performers is Heading to USA

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UK-based Coventry University’s Immersive Telepresence in Theatre project is crossing the pond for a special performance in Miami.

Through the use of video conferencing software, the project enables actors and performing arts lecturers to work together across the globe as though they were in the same rehearsal space.

Collaborations between Tampere University in Finland, Adam Mickiewicz University Poznan in Poland and Coventry University have already taken place but the latest milestone for the Telepresence in Theatre Project has seen it travel even further afield. Over recent weeks acting students from Coventry University have been rehearsing in the virtual space with students from the Florida International University in Miami for the project’s most ambitious venture yet. Having perfected the piece virtually using Telepresence, students from Coventry will soon visit Miami to take part in a joint performance of Shakespeare’s Pericles, with the result live-streamed globally.

The play was considered ideal for the project as it deals with the subject of being separated by oceans.

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Tom Gorman, Assistant Professor at Coventry University’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities and coordinator of the project said, “Telepresence opens up a world of opportunities for our performers, bringing them together with actors, lecturers and directors that they otherwise would be unable to work with. By using advanced networking technologies, rear projection screens, careful lighting and unidirectional microphones, Telepresence gives actors the illusion that they are occupying the same physical space. It’s this realism that helps actors, who may be separated by thousands of miles, feel as though they are working together on the same stage. We believe we have created something special in theatre and we’re excited to explore what can be done with this technology.”

Such has been the success of Telepresence that the project has this year been nominated for the Outstanding Drama Initiative Award at the Music and Drama Education 2023 Awards. The awards, which recognize quality and innovation, will take place in London this February.

Gorman said, “We’re thrilled to have been nominated at the Music and Drama Education Awards, it’s a fantastic achievement and I’d like to thank all of our international collaborators for their help in developing Telepresence into the amazing project that it has become.”

Telepresence has previously been recognized with other awards including the Reimagine Education Awards and the Coventry Excellence Awards.