Testing the Co-creation Stage for other performing arts

Mikel Zorrilla,  Vicomtech – December 21st 2021

TRACTION is, among others, developing a new tool that connects communities and individuals in real-time, allowing multiple co-located stages and participants to perform together. We have named this tool Co-creation Stage.

The Co-creation Stage has been designed to perform opera from different locations, and it has been already tested in real opera performances.

However, the TRACTION team is convinced that this tool, apart from being very valuable for opera performances, is also relevant for other performing arts, such as theatre.

The team from Vicomtech, coordinators of the TRACTION project, contacted a Theatre company in Getxo (Bizkaia, Basque Country) called Utopian to make an experiment.

Utopian created a performance called “Yo… en un banco verde”, where the characters are inspired by words used by Marguerite Yourcenar in Mémoires d’Hadrien: “A part of each life, and even each insignificant life, is spent searching for the reasons for being, the starting points, the sources”. Ariadna, Haizea, Mar and Amancio, the characters of the performance, want to sit on a green bench for a vital search.

The performance, which has been designed to be performed as a “traditional” theatre performance, is divided into six main scenes, and it contains projections on the stage (texts, cites and images). For this experiment, Utopian and Vicomtech agreed that there wouldn’t be an audience in the theatre and that a limited number of participants would follow the performance online, who would be able to participate and interact directly with the actors from their homes.

The Co-creation Stage enabled the orchestration of live and on-demand media to enable the remote audience to follow what was happening on the stage, and connect them through live streaming with the actors, being able to ask questions or make comments to them between the different scenes.

The experiment was limited to 10 remote participants, and one of them finally did not join the show for personal reasons. Participants were connected from different locations in Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, San Sebastian, Bilbao, etc.), from ages between 18 and 65.

Figure 1: Actors saying bye bye to the audience while the remote audience is being display in the stage

More than 70% of the participants found the system very easy to use. On a scale from 1 (very poor) to 5 (excellent), the average score of the video quality was 3.14 and 4.14 for the audio quality.

Figure 2: The operator of the Co-creation Stage during the performance

In the same way, on a scale from 1 (not at all) to 5 (completely), the average score for the engagement of the viewers with the performance is 4.57. Moreover, those who participated in interacting with the actors, felt completely part of the show.

Figure 2: Some images of the performance, with the audience interacting with the actors

On a scale from 1 (not interesting at all) to 5 (very interesting), the average score for the question “how interesting do you believe it is to participate and be able to talk with the actors?” is 4.42. The participants believe that the experience was completely different from going to the theatre, but most of them (85%) would like to repeat the experience often.

Technologically, the tool worked fine and there is a lot of potential to be used in opera, theatre and other performing arts. However, the performance was not designed from the very beginning to make the people participate and was probably not the best script to promote the interaction and participation of the audience. However, both the theatre company, Utopian, and Vicomtech are very happy with the experiment, and we are looking forward to extending it in the future.