PlayOn! Bulletin, Issue One, June 2022

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PlayOn! Bulletin

New Storytelling with


issue one June 2022

Immersive Technologies

9 theatres from 9 European

countries in cooperation with

9 universities exploring the

artistic challenges of digital

transformation 2019–2024









Project coordinator

and tech partners page 2


Here and Now page 3

HOPE – A creative online

forum: How two years of digital

conferences brought theatres and

technologists together page 4/5


From VR to escape rooms and

interactive props page 6/7

The network looks into

the FUTURE page 8

Co-funded by the

Creative Europe Programme

of the European Union






Dirk Neldner speaks with Lucy

Hammond, Projects Producer

(Pilot Theatre, UK) about the PlayOn

network, an ambitious project

exploring the future of storytelling

with technology.

L: How did the idea for this collaboration

between theatres and immersive

technologies begin?

D: Theatres are experts in storytelling.

But their way is usually one-sided: the

artists on stage with the audience

listening, watching. Only slowly is

an understanding developing for

new storytelling, for interactive story

structures. This is the interface to the

game industry and thus to many digital

technologies. To reach the audience of

tomorrow, theatre must become even

more active.

L: How would you describe the way the

PlayOn! network brings together experts

and makers?

D: We have two target groups that we

want to address. Firstly, theatre- makers

who want to open up and expand

their theatre language with (digital)

immersive technologies. And secondly,

digital artists and experts who have

mastered these technologies and are

perhaps discovering a new medium in

live theatre.

L: So the network aims to enhance the

skills of both technologists and theatre

makers through shared learning and

practical application?

continue on next page

Richard Hurford | UK



is the artistic inspiration at the centre

of the PlayOn! project – and an immediate

provocation. It’s surprising to find

the oppositional words Concrete and

Digital together in one phrase. Throw

in the wild card idea of Utopias and it

becomes even more intriguing. So, what

does it all mean and where can it lead us?

The concept of the Concrete Utopia was

created by Ernst Bloch, the mid-20th

century German political philosopher. At

first sight, it may seem strange. If Utopia

means an imaginary perfect state or

social system, and concrete means real,

then it appears we have two conflicting

principles impossible to reconcile -

“imaginary” versus “real”, “realistic”

versus “unrealistic”. So does PlayOn!

mean to challenge us to chase after the

impossible? No - in fact it’s the opposite.

Common modern usage of the term

Utopia tends to refer to something that is

inherently impossible, unrealistic, naïve.

If an idea is called Utopian it’s dismissed,

insulted or treated like a joke. But why?

Utopia was the name chosen by 16th

century English writer Thomas More

for his fictional perfect island state, part

satire, part provocation. More created

the name Utopia by combining two

Greek words meaning “no” and “place”.

However, when spoken aloud it sounds

very similar to the two Greek words

meaning “good” and “place”. And here

perhaps we have the roots of Utopia as

an unrealistic fantasy; the “good place” is

“no place”. It does not exist, which

very easily becomes “It cannot exist”.

Some claim the whole idea of Utopia is

against human nature itself. Of course

theirs is a very specific viewpoint usually

based on an absolute certainty that

human nature is fixed. Their argument

depends on believing that what human

beings are today, they were yesterday

and they will be forever. The world is as

it is. Human nature is as it is. Therefore

change is impossible – so they say.

Clearly there are those people who want

the world to stay exactly as it is, since it

works perfectly well for their tiny portion

of humankind. But what about the

rest of us who have no good reason to

reject Utopia? Shouldn’t we at least ask

ourselves some Utopian questions?

What does Utopia look like? Do we want

Utopia? If we want Utopia, how do we

get it? Just because Utopias don’t or

even can’t exist today, there is no reason

they won’t or can’t exist in the future -

because things (can) change.

continue on page 3

2 3

Continued from page 1

Continued from page 1

STORYTELLING FOR THE HERE AND NOW - INTERVIEW WITH L: There have been some really exciting methods. The training aspect of the network

will be an interesting and valuable are longing for profound debates, for

of the hopelessness of the times. People Richard Hurford | UK


But isn’t Hope the oldest con-trick in when is always Today.

Recently I came across the British immersive technologies ... the hope for

projects coming out of the network so

CONCRETE UTOPIAS the world? Was Bloch asking us to Our Today is the Digital Age and this is literature professor Terry Eagleton and improvement drives us, trial and error

D: Yes the real challenge lies in the field And we need mediators between the far. Pilot’s experience as a theatre company

for young people has been that it is as the project reaches its midway point? sions in a time when we are afraid of

IN THE DIGITAL AGE believe in fairy tales? Certainly not. just the start. For some people it’s been his book: Hope without Optimism. is our process of hope and failure.

legacy for the project, what is your hope guidance, for critical and open discus-

of training! There are - at least in Europe two worlds: Theatre and digitality. You

Bloch’s hope is not the hope of

a bad beginning. For others, the good I don't know if he would approve of Eagleton notes that there can be hope

- no offers at schools for directing and can't imagine how difficult it is to bring a new way for us to explore storytelling

war, of climate change, of pandemics, of

By accepting that Utopias are possible,

the connection with the word has gone. Nor is it the passive hope of are not built by trusting to fate or by pro-

because when I googled him, I read his present. However, a future that could

desperation when everything else outweighs the bad. But Concrete Utopias me mentioning him in our context, only if the future is anchored in the

acting that introduce young artists to representatives of these two worlds into for our audiences as well as appealing D: Theatre has often proven in the past the tearing apart of our societies. When

the new immersive technologies. This is a common working process. Because to those who may be excited by being that it is able to adapt to new technologies,

to use them to tell stories even language formats and explores these

theatre is open to learn new artistic

“ concrete” no longer feels like a paradox wishful thinking. This is Hope redefined jecting dystopian visions of today into article "Why I never use email", which be fairly described in the language of

where bridges need to be built. So far in there is still a big gap in understanding, it active or part of the live experience. It

or a problem. If a Utopia can exist, then as a problem to be solved. We hope for a the future. Today it is only natural for us is more than critical of everyday digital the present would have too much in

our experience in our network - where is so hard to convince theatre-makers to has also been a good opportunity to see more intensely. But the reason I really themes, the future of storytelling is not

obviously it must be able to be concrete perfect system and then use that hope to to fear another wave of the pandemic. applications. However, when I searched common with the status quo, to be

theatre and digital universities meet - open up. The same is seen on the other the inventive ways our partners across have such great hope that theatre plays only exciting but important in helping us

- real, not abstract. How? Because things drive our actions towards a solution. Today it is understandable to feel despair further I came across his book "Culture" considered a real future at all. And with

students of technical disciplines are also (digital) side.

Europe approach these technologies and such an important role today is because navigate the world that we are living in. ´


In fact it’s a whole system constructed

from many solutions that must against the people of Ukraine.

to myself


at the brutal aggression unleashed and thought

that, Eagleton

very interested in artistic realisations.

Human beings constantly make plans





VAT Teater | Tallinn/Estonia Akademie für Theater und Digitalität |


Est. 1987 as the oldest Estonian independent theatre

15 permanent employees + over 30 freelancers

Shows per year (during the pandemic) 150

Spectators per year 15000

VAT Teater is a small theatre with a big... ...reach!





Many theatres within and beyond

PlayOn are interested in how mobile

phones can be integrated into their

productions. This is a complex topic and

it can be difficult to understand what is

possible and the creative opportunities

presented by this platform.

To help, Ben Kirman (Digital Creativity

Labs) has made a demonstration app

toolkit that can be helpful in thinking

about different kinds of ways mobile

phones can be used apart from the

familiar. It is a playful tool that might

help give some ideas of unusual


The demo app is only available for

Android, however the features work on

iPhone too.

You can download the app on an android

device, and instructions are available

on the webpage at



There is also a short video demonstration

of a couple of the features:


The app has a selection of features to explore.

Of particular interest for thinking

about "concrete utopias" is the "location"

tab, which finds out some features of

your current location, and the "remote

data" tab, which allows you to give

feedback live to a server. On your computer

(or another device) you can see

the output of this on this control panel:


The app and the control panel are

connected live - changes in the control

panel affect everyone with the app

imme diately. You can send notifications,

change messages and colours, trigger

events and there is a simple voting

system. Note it might be confusing if

many people are using the control panel

at once!

This liveness gives interesting possibilities

- events triggered when certain

numbers of audience members are

in different locations, or even tied to

external systems like lighting cues or

other displays.

Ben is happy to talk more about the

creative potential of this platform

ben@kirman.org, you can also see

more of Ben's work at: https://ben.




Est. 2019

10 employees + associated member

The Academy focuses on technical and artistic research and exploration of Digitality. We enjoy

Complexity and Interdisciplinarity.

The institution is characterised first and foremost by the artistic-technical research work of the

(international) fellows. The invited artists, technologists and coders spend five months conducting

prototypical and application-oriented research on the development of digital tools and methods

between sensor technology, actuator technology, XR, VR, AR and artificial intelligence (funded by

the Kulturstiftung des Bundes). This is complemented by a pilot project the academy has launched

with the Helmholtz Association as a research scholarship, as an encounter between science and art.

The research and development is accompanied on one hand by technology-oriented further

education, on the other hand by the initiation of the master's degree program "Digitality in the

Scenic Arts" (working title) with the Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts.

As part of the Theater Dortmund, the academy regularly cooperates with the five other divisions

of the house, as most recently in the context of PlayOn! for the KJT's production: "The Future".


University of York

Digital Creativity Labs | York/United Kingdom

Est. 1963

22020 students from 150 countries

Staff 3800 across 30 departments



The University of York is a research university and the home of the Digital Creativity Labs, £18m

multidisciplinary lab for technology and storytelling, with internationally recognised research.

that require new techniques, technology

or thinking to deliver. So we simply

apply this to the idea of the Concrete

Utopia and understand

that all

our thinking, our

planning and our

actions must be

for the future. The

important thing

is to understand

that a Concrete

Utopia is not fixed

by today’s situation

or what happened

yesterday, last year,

last century. It all

depends on what

we can make happen

tomorrow - if

we change things.

Ernst Bloch put it like this: Concrete

Utopias are possible but Not Yet. Not

Yet is not the same as Never. Never shuts

everything down. Not Yet keeps the way

forward open.

On the way there will be mistakes. That’s

fine. We don’t give up today because our

Concrete Utopia is not yet possible. We

build it piece by piece every day so that

tomorrow it will be one day closer.

But what can possibly drive the creation

of a Utopia that we will most likely not

live long enough to see? Bloch’s answer

is clear: the book that first introduced his

concept of Concrete Utopias is called

The Principle of Hope.

We are proposing a once in a lifetime

ritual for the people of Naarm (Melbourne)

to speculate about the next

century and consciously emphasise with

future generations who will inherit our

society. It’s called Child of Now.

We ask people to imagine

the next century through the

eyes of a child born today

to contribute to a massively

co-authored story about the

next century and the most

ambitious portrait of our

population ever created.

But before we continue,

it’s protocol in Australia to

Acknowledge Country, to state where we

are. We write from the stolen, unceded

lands of the Wurundjeri Woiwurrung

and Boonwurrung people of the Kulin

nations. We acknowledge the cultural

elders of the Wurundjeri people of the

past and the elders keeping culture alive

in the present.

We invite you to think about where you

are. Do you live and work on the lands

of your ancestors? How did you come to

be there, have you been displaced? Did

work together in harmony. And work

for every person. Utopias must be

ambitious. OK for some people, even OK

for most people is not good enough. It

must be the “good place” for all people,

which can only be imagined and created

by the ongoing input of all people

towards this common goal.

Clearly such a consensus is not possible

in today’s world, but that is not an

obstacle. We just focus on finding the

solution to make it possible tomorrow.

Concrete Utopias are always historically

specific and no Concrete Utopia model

can be imposed on another time and

place; one size does not fit all. Every

Concrete Utopia must begin in a specific

place at a specific point in time. The

place is a matter of choice and will, but

you or your ancestors displace others or

take part in colonisation? Utopias are in

tension with colonisation.

A utopia, if it ever can exist, belongs in

the future. This is the important work

of speculative fiction, to see the future

and from that future to examine the

now. We send messages back and forth

through time, using what anthropologist

W. E. H. Stanner, in his 1953 essay ‘The

Dreaming’, called ‘everywhen’, the Aboriginal

Australian concept of time in which

the abstract concepts of past, present

and future do not exist. In this sense the

future is a utopia, it does not exist. In

the everywhen everything that can exist

already does, it’s just waiting for it’s time

to unfold, to reveal itself. We don’t create

a future, we discover it. Child of Now is a

However Today is only really significant

as the time and place to identify what

Photo: R.Hurford

specific hopes we

have for a better

world. Then we

must move on

to address those

specific problems

we must solve to

get there.

PlayOn! is hopeful

that within our

Digital Age are the

seeds for Concrete

Utopias to grow

into the good places

of tomorrow for

everyone. We can

choose to accept

that technology

will just build a digital version of the old

world with all its failings and injustices.

Or we can choose to hope and identify

the problems that technology can solve.

We can choose to see that the past is

really “no place”. We can learn from

it, but we must not allow it to stop us

hoping for something different and

better. “Concrete Utopias in the Digital

Age” is definitely not a call to imagine

the impossible. Instead it’s a challenge to

search for the huge, wonderful, limitless

potential of the possible and to choose

to make it all really happen, one day at

a time. Let’s hope.


Imagining the next century

through the life of a child

born today Robert E Walton

and Claire G Coleman | Australia

way we can encourage this discovery.

We write from the collaborative creative

process of our interdisciplinary Extended

Reality (XR) artwork Child of Now,

a project that speculates on radical

variations of how the next century might

unfold. It focuses collective attention by

enacting rehearsals of

possible futures. Our

aim is to foster embodied


of indigenised, equitable

and sustainable

societies, to explore

how the future might


The artwork does this by combining

narrative and portraiture to imagine the

life course of a child born today. We invite

14,400 people to step into the Child

of Now’s shoes at key moments in the

future to help make decisions. The sum

of all the decisions creates a collaboratively

authored future history of the next

century. The holograms we create of

each person’s performance as the Child

of Now form an animated portrait that

ages sequentially, one body at a time,

¬- here is a


to PlayOn!

in terms of

content. But

this book is

a takedown

of culture as

we know it;

in Eagleton’s

eyes culture

is "overrated". The self-identified Marxist

complains: "In some places, culture

has become a way of not talking about

capitalism". A culture to Eagleton's taste

would have to create a utopia beyond

capitalist reality.

Hallelujah, here are the utopian ideas we

are looking for – in a relevant context!

Yes, Eagleton’s approach still appears

dressed in the linguistic costume of

Marxism: property, exploitation and

class struggle ... But honestly, there’s not

much wrong about that for my taste.

In "Hope without Optimism," Eagleton

draws a distinction between hope and

simple wishful thinking idealism, or a

blind faith in progress. Unlike hope,

professional optimism is not a virtue

and it cannot be supported or justified

with serious thought or rigorous study.

He illustrates this by referring to North

Korea and the United States of America,

where optimism is almost a state

ideology. Optimism in the US is often the

same as patriotism. As Eagleton says, a

US-president telling Americans that their

best years are already behind them is

unthinkable; it would be at least political

suicide and possibly even put their actual

life in danger.



Dirk Neldner | DE

For Eagleton simple optimism is banal.

Hope, on the other hand, requires reflection

and clear, rational thinking - and

always holds the possibility of failure. His

conclusion that Hope drives people and

states to peak performance brings us to

the core issues of our work. We are all

confronted with the possibility of failure

when we make theatre, when we use

one minute each, through a whole life

course. Then, 14,400 minutes (ten days)

later, the Child of Now will die, approximately

one hundred years in the future.

Child of Now is an exercise in co-authorship,

that begins with the two of

us, Claire and Robert, and will grow

and unfold to include thousands more.

Our utopian aim is to preserve the

idiosyncrasy of each voice, gesture,

turn of phrase, body, skin tone, language

and perspective of every contributor

in the Child of Now’s future

archive. This portrait of the Child of


that we can

really deal with

utopias in theatre

– because

we simply lack

the language

to do so. If I


this correctly,

we can hope,

but we must accept that hope cannot

predict the future, and just be content if

we succeed in reflecting where change is

needed in the present.

This confrontation with Terry Eagleton

gave me a lot of pleasure, even if it’s a

dark pleasure. That's why at the end of

his book I just felt like browsing again

through Ernst Bloch and his main work

"The Principle of Hope". Just to confirm

that my longing for utopias is not entirely

wrong. Bloch calls longing the only

honest quality of man. And he gives me

courage by saying that it is important

that we learn to hope. Because if we stop

hoping, what we fear will come to be.

When it comes to the cooperation

between theatre and the digital world

optimism alone cannot help us. These

worlds sometimes feel like two antipodes,

truly hard to connect up. It

demands the investment of a lot of hope

to imagine we can find a way to develop

creatively together. But it is my firm

conviction, that here such an investment

in hope is really worth it. We must train

ourselves to bring these two creative

worlds closer together. Again, it is about

hope without optimism. Clear visions

must be developed on both sides so that

a common, very concrete utopia can


We are the storytellers and we have

the obligation to always develop new

narratives for people. And, in doing so,

also show the audience the opportunities

of our time in expanded spaces,

so that the audience can dive into our

stories and the possibilities they contain.

Now comprised of thousands of people

and their observations of the future

will be radically plural, it will not be

homogenised. Specific plurality is


Have a look at the diagram. The public

will engage in the project in two parts.

In part one, ‘Gathering’, 14400 Melbournians

would come through our

immersive installation to create what

we call the “future archive”. This

experience includes

continue on page 5

4 5



In 2021 and 2022 PlayOn! created an innovative online conference bringing together

leading creatives and technologists exploring immersive technology and storytelling.

Sourcing speakers from all over the world audiences were able to register for free to

engage with the activities. From AR scavenger hunts to large scale installations the

work showcased also traversed artforms including opera, theatre and our favourite

subject ‘utopias’: Content is also available to stream online for free.



Still from Hope Conference 2022 Pola Weiß





co-production: Burgtheater Wien (AT),

Berliner Ensemble (DE),

Teatr Ludowy (PL) and PlayOn!

This was a performance that took

place in the imaginations of the audience.

Using the hashtag #HopeVorstellung

Hope conference attendees gathered

on twitter collectively creating the

experience of travelling to the theatre to

sitting down and watching the play. The

audience were supported and fired up

on Twitter by actors from the three coproducing

theatres as well as the other

PlayOn! companies. This was a communal

experience that enabled people to

travel (not) to Berlin and Krakow and

visit (not) a guest performance – and

all in one evening!

macro and micro movements of different

bodies. The workshop demonstrated

how a performers movement could trigger

a whole range of on-stage effects.




A joint adventure by Akademie

für Theater und Digitalität (DE),

Landesbühnen Sachsen (DE),

Platypus Theatre Berlin (DE)

Berlin@Play is an AR theatre game that

takes place in urban space. It asks the

questions: What is the city around me?

What role do I play in it? The staging

of the piece in public space with digital

technology aims to reinterpret each

place the audience encounter, turning

the spectators into players and putting

them in Kafkaesque situations.



Claudius Lazzeroni,

professor for Interface Design at

Folkwang University Essen (DE)

Audience interact with their environment

using a tablet exploring a narrative

based on Kafka’s novel “The Castle”, the

audience are told stories, have to find

places, evaluate them and make their

Berlin @ play

own decisions.

In his workshop, Claudius presented

Watch the trailer.

SEKLAKI, a system of different sensor

Through AR, they experience a digitally


and tracking possibilities adapted for

staged space. The beauty of this project

an easy use on stage with little techno-

is the potential for it to be played in

You can play the game in Berlin in

logical knowhow. The goal is an easy

other cities, using technology to bring

summer 2022

control of sound, light and visuals with

the storytelling into the urban space.


Continued from page 3

CHILD OF NOW - Imagining the next century

through the life of a child born today

Child of Now Prototype

recording moving holograms and audio

experience to immerse visitors within

messages addressing the future. We

the archive. In the coming years we will

have just finished the first prototype of

develop the Gathering to collect 14,400

Laila Finnish National Opera

‘Gathering’ at Arts Centre Melbourne.

holographic and audio portraits.

Once we have collected 1000s of

holograms we are ready to perform

The embryonic, almost impossibly large

Laila Finnish National Opera



Guy Gadney (UK)

Guy is co-founder and CEO of the

ground-breaking storytelling platform

charisma.ai, a toolkit for creating

interactive stories with believable virtual

characters. How can artificial intelligence

become the co-creator of new storytelling

formats? Guy’s technology

allows characters and audiences

to communicate in dynamic and

compelling ways.





Lorne Svarc (The TANK NYC, USA)

Mañanaland is an interactive transmedia

piece that explores a utopian alternate

universe where the social and political

conflicts of today are a thing of the past.

The story is experienced in a hybrid virtual-physical

world through a virtual news

network and a series of AR hunts across

three of the five boroughs of New York.

The piece made good use of the existing

AR game app Scavengar for theatrical

storytelling. Seeing new applications for

existing technologies was particularly

interesting with this project.





Annastina Haaparsaari (FI)

As project manager of Opera Beyond

Annastina presented a unique

and ambitious project for the Finnish

National Opera and Ballet, based on

their recent production Laila, an immersive,

interactive installation, which won

the 2020 FEDORA Digital Prize. By combining

arts and technology without prejudice

or preconceptions, Opera Beyond

builds an ecosystem of independent

actors that gives rise to unusual combinations.

The Laila installation changes

and moulds its music and visuals when

audiences interact with the piece. “In

Laila, you are not the audience, but

one of many actors shaping reality.”


part two, ‘Existence’, a ten day public

performance ritual. We shuffle the holograms

into age order from 1-101 years,

and replay them 1 minute at a time over

10 days on top of Hamer Hall, the city's

largest stage. Each day this collective

portrait ages by a decade. After 10 days

the Child of Now dies in a life affirming

vigil with fireworks and festivities.

It is in this way that the project embodies

the art of speculative thinking

– generating a portrait of the current

population engaged in the act of

imagining the next century. Our utopian

aim is to create a portrait that

reflects the diversity of current and

future Naarm, Melbourne. It is therefore

critical to consider who contributes to

the archive of portraits to ensure the

project captures the diversity of the

current population and also reflects our

estimation of the future population.

scale, public art project Child of Now will

be many things: a sculpture, an experience,

a publicly and personally owned

mass ethnography, a work of performance

art, an archive.

We have an impulse towards utopia and

a certain knowledge that only through

examining the past (the now that has

happened) can we improve the future

(the now to come). The project itself is

utopic by nature, founded on the belief

that with enough collaborators the near

impossible can be performed.

This is in the true tradition of utopia

as Thomas More perhaps saw it, an

impulse towards something that might

be impossible, towards a world that is

better than the one we live in, towards

an archive and an ethnography that is

decolonised, owned by its subjects and,

finally, free of the racist impulses of insti-

and pluralistic, so it could be delivered

anywhere the human species are found,

anywhere people dream, anywhere we

can imagine. We are looking for collaborators.

New cities, new populations, new

children of now.

Please get in contact if you would like

to join us on this adventure.

Find out more:



The technology required to make Child

of Now did not exist when we started

work on the project in 2017. Over the

years we have worked with our collaborators

at University of Melbourne

and Phoria to create a holographic

portraiture system, 3D models of 10,000

years of past and future life along our

tutional collecting.

We desire to create a new type of art,

knowing it might be impossible and

knowing we might change the discourse

if we can indeed achieve our aims. In

this way we are defining the artistic

impulse as a striving towards a place

that does not exist, knowing perhaps,

that it’s better than here. Child of Now


HOPE 2021 and 2022 were attended by over 1550 people taking part in workshops,

talks and socialising in our online networking bar. What began as a need to go online

out of necessity due to the pandemic became an opportunity to engage with theatre

makers, technologists and creatives all over the world.

Perhaps there is scope for a Hope Conference 2023? Watch this space.

city’s river, interactive systems and a VR

was born in Melbourne but it is myriad

6 7


During PlayOn! the partner theatres go through three production periods: In phase 1 they developed new forms of storytelling, building on

narrative structures used in the gaming sector. In phase 2 they merged these new forms with a variety of immersive technologies creating

innovative and impressive productions out of these working processes.

THE THEATRES are now preparing for the third phase of the project. They will leave the stage and look for immersive

outreach applications. In order to exploit all the opportunities offered by the new story-world-building, they will experience how to engage the

audience with points of intervention and participation in the public urban space. Immersive technologies offer a kind of flexibility, which enables

theatres to exceed limits of space and time. Thematically they will further explore the topic of concrete utopias in the digital age.





Teatro O Bando | Palmela/Portugal

Landestheater Linz | Austria

Pilot Theatre Company | York/United Kingdom

Kolibri Színház | Budapest/Hungary

Est. 1974

17 permanent team members

Shows per year: 120

Spectators per year: around 20 000

We are working as a collective future-oriented theatre; the focus of our projects

are freedom, territories and minorities.


(co-production with Teatro Montemuro) is a theatrical reflection about the ancestral and the anthropological

roots of the relationship between a human being and a ball. Joining two different teams

on stage we pretend to mix the well-known codes of modern football with the historical research of

Portuguese writer Álvaro Magalhães. Published in 2004, the author’s The Natural History of Football

is a multidisciplinary essay which delves into the most intimate aspects of the game to discover its

essence, exploring the motivations inherent to it and its essential categories. Following the PlayON!

challenge, we developed an app (developed by Ben Kirman, more info on page 2) with specific

contents to captivate the audience and to allow them to become an active “supporter” of this

theatre game, following the results of the season of the show through videos and other types

of media contents.

Est. 1803

Size of the team: around 1000

Shows per year: 800-900

Spectators per year: around 320 000

Departments: Opera, Dance, Musical, Drama and Theatre for Young Audience (TYA)

5 stages (90 to 1 200 seats) + online “netstage”


Nikola is hiding in her room avoiding expectations to conform, while trying to connect to others

online. The outside world is only present via smartphone videos, sounds and written chats, while she

tries to manifest an utopian society in a video game world. The audience can interact with each other

via reaction.link emojis (https://www.reactionlink.de) and help build the gaming environment

through their decisions.

Alienation builds upon our first experiments with live theatre online, ranging from very little interactivity

to the audience being responsible for progressing the story, a development we feel is vital for

the audience-performance relationship in online theatre. For the gaming worlds we teamed up with

students of the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria.

Est. 1981

Size of the team 4 full time, 3 part-time + many freelancers

Spectators per year: around 15000

As a touring company, we make theatre and art with and for young people and

inspire and champion creativity. Think harder, feel more!


in collaboration with One to One Development

Three women. Three voices. The northern landscape.

They are monoliths – standing stones – powerful and influential forces.

In Monoliths, three stories open the world of the northern English landscape in virtual reality, what

it means to come from it, live in it and belong to it.

Monoliths is a VR experience that combines the soundscapes of real locations in the north of England

with the stories of three northern women. The piece is an exploration on how landscapes can be

radical spaces for expression and reflection. Premiering at re:publica, 2022.

Est. 1992

81 permanent workers + over 30 freelancers

Shows per year: 550

Spectators per year: around 50000

“We grow up together!” – This motto conveys our mission to offer each age

group high-standard productions that are suitable for their mental and emotional

development, and to accompany children through the stages of artistic experience.


is an interactive theatre game about the negative effects of climate change. The story takes place in

two similar Time Crypts, that come from an imagined future, an age when humanity’s drinking water

supply has decreased drastically. Our audience are active participants of the game, revealing some

details of the impending social and climate catastrophe themselves with the help of messages from

the future. Whether their mission succeeds, whether they can prevent a forthcoming danger, depends

on them. The future is in their hands.

You can hear an interview with the director and designer of the production by scanning the QR code.





Teatr Ludowy | Krakow/Poland




Est. 1955

96 permanent employees

Spectators per year: 101 000

Shows per year: approx. 580

A theatre that expands its operation and creates new fields of art.

Teatret Vårt | Molde, Ålesund/Norway

Est. 1972

Size of the team: 40 permanent + 30 freelance

Spectators per year: 35 000

Shows per year: approx. 270

Teatret Vårt is an ambitious and innovative theatre touring the north-western

region of Norway with home base at theatre houses in the towns of Molde and

Ålesund producing a broad range of plays for audiences of all ages.

The production DREAM GAME is using an interactive stage created by microcontrollers that

provides an unusual theatrical experience for a young audience aged 8+.



Decide! Accuse! Judge!

In 1984: Ministry of Love the audience become part of the jury who will pass judgement on the accused.

The audience have access to a unique mobile application reaction.link and court files. Pressing a

button to change somebody’s life.

The performance, whose starting point is the novel by George Orwell, 1984, places the audience, as

a judging body, they are able to decide, along with the course of the interrogation, which of the four

perspectives of the story they want to see. They will democratically vote on whom to grant or whom

to take away the right to vote. The performance asks what the power of audience responsibility becomes

in the oppressive situation of the invasion of someone's memory.

Elsinor Centro di Produzione Teatrale | Forlì,

Florence, Milano/Italy

Est. 1999 as three theatre companies, active from the 1970s, merged together

15 permanent staff members + around other 140 per year involved in projects

Shows per year: 363

Spectators per year: 50500

Elsinor’s driven commitment is focused on the exploration of contemporary theatrical

prose, and the exchange and synergies inspired by traditional and new approaches.



This production is a feminine interpretation of the famous book, which tells of an era in which being

women and artists was much less than an exception, in which one could feel "monstrous" if she gave

birth to books instead of children, in which a Creator confronts herself with the fear of being such and

with the genius of her Creature: a masterpiece that has transcended its time creating one of the greatest

topos of the contemporary age. A dreamlike journey into the novel and the emotionality of its author,

and at the same time a technological immersion in a dramaturgy with an interactive component.

Theater Dortmund | Germany

Est. 1904

700 permanent employees + freelancers

Shows per year: 680

Spectators per year: 220 000

Theater Dortmund is one of the largest theatres in Germany with over

500 employees. It is divided into the six divisions (drama, opera, ballet,

Philharmonic Orchestra, Academy for Theatre and Digitality, KJT - Theatre

for Young audience), each of which has its own artistic direction.



Our main idea is to develop a play that refers to the current situation of humanity. Young people

are facing a future that looks to be chaotic, dark, overwhelming and disturbing. Due to the Coronavirus

we extend further into digital worlds without structures and ways to connect. The production

is a collage of voice, body, sound, and surroundings in order to depict the immediacy of digital

environments but also to explore strategies to face the future with courage and joy.

New Storytelling with Nz.1

one June 2022









Motion- or movement-tracking?

For a theatre practitioner these terms

seem very similar. In reality though

these methods mean quite different

possibilities, problems and even technological

bases. The first step is to decide,

which road to choose, the second step is

to find a working balance between tech

and art. VAT Teater (EE)

The living challenge of creating spaces

in which artistic research and aesthetic

production are related to each other,

in which people of different artistic and

technical provenance experiment on

a sensual and meaningful theatre of

the future. Akademie für Theater und

Digitalität (DE)

Theatre as an agile, creative, flexible art

form, that brings people together, helps

them communicate, problem solve

and find understanding and common

ground is as relevant as it ever was. And

smart uses of technology within theatre

are maybe the rocket fuel for enabling

this connection and understanding and

problem-solving ability to spread around

the planet, at a time when we need those

things the most. Pilot Theatre (UK)

Our goal is to be a unique center for

impulse-giving art and at the same time

to develop it further as an interface between

contemporary art and a changing

society. Theater Dortmund (DE)

We´re focusing on audience development

and trying to find open forms or

digital tools that immerse audiences into

our storytelling. Landestheater Linz (AT)

We are finding ways to apply cutting

edge technology research to help

storytellers in film, games and theatre.

University of York | Digital Creativity

Labs (UK)

the most


form of loss

isn't the loss of security;

it's the loss of the


to imagine that things

could be ­


ernst bloch - german philosopher


WE PlayOn!



With PlayOn! we aim to establish new

links between the theatre artists, the

professional training and the industrial

sectors. We are creating synergies

by pooling resources, by receiving

high impact training, and by multilevel

networking to benefit most.

Within 5 years we will under take

experiments and research in how

theatres can develop the content and

aesthetics of their work as an artistic

asset. We will establish professional

connections with the digital industry.

New technologies always need

new ideas (content) for application,

practical and playful use. That’s our

speciality as theatres. And in this way,

theatres face the challenges without

losing their task of communicating

and engaging with the audience.

Content in combination with technology

can become a win-win situation

for all players.


Newspaper one | PlayOn! New storytelling

with immersive technologies

Editor Odette Bereska, Lucy Hammond

Layout & Design sign.Berlin

Communications GmbH | www.sign-berlin.de

Printed by Druckhaus Sportflieger

Picture Index Richard Hurford (UK),

Klaudina Schubert (PL), Jörg Metzner (DE),

Kari Ylitalo (FI)

© PlayOn! New storytelling with immersive

technologies is a European Theatre Network

supported by the European Commission. The

views expressed in this publication are only

the views of the authors. The Commission cannot

be held responsible for any use, which may

be made of the information contained therein.

Contact Odette Bereska | odette@play-on.eu

Project Coordinator VAT Teater | vatteater.ee

Our current challenges are to integrate the

needs of the different technologies with

the standard production methods, and to

integrate and bring together the different

audiences (more attracted to technology

or traditional theatre) on new paths.

Elsinor Centro di Produzione Teatrale (IT)

Our main goal is to find a way to

survive as a cooperative and as a

collective of artists, while trying to

transgress the borders between rural

and urban, adult and child, schooled or

popular, national or universal, dramatic,

narrative or poetic, digital or analogue.

Teatro O Bando (PT)

We look forward to the challenges and

fresh perspectives offered by the two

international projects – PlayOn! and

MAPPING – that are running with our

participation, in continuing a series of

highly productive co-operations.

Kolibri Színház (HU)

We are looking for new artistic tools

to make our theatre more open for

every kind of audience. We try to find a

balance between traditional structures of

theatre performances and new forms of

participation. Teatr Ludowy (PL)

Our goal is to develop and produce a

program that connects with, and initiates

development within a diverse audience

in the county of Møre and Romsdal.

Teatret Vårt (NO)

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