Augmented Play

16th October 2019
Augmented Play

Augmented Play is a reimagining of Samuel Beckett’s ground-breaking theatrical text, Play (1963), for digital culture. It is the third and final part of a two-year practice-based research trilogy, wherein the text has been reinterpreted for 1) webcast (Intermedial Play), 2) Virtual Reality (Virtual Play) and, now, 3) Augmented Reality.

The project reinterprets Beckett’s classic modernist text in a way that is engaging for 21st Century audiences, by using cutting-edge interactive digital media technologies. The characters were recorded using 3D volumetric video techniques and they are displayed using the either the Microsoft HoloLens or the Magic Leap augmented reality (AR) head-mounted displays (HMD). The project uses the same volumetric video data that was captured for the (earlier) virtual reality version.

The user–narrative paradigm is also the same as the virtual reality version; experiencers are invited to don the AR HMD, embody an interrogator and explore the narrative by confronting virtual reconstructions of Beckett’s characters. The user activates the characters into speaking by looking at them, so the artwork acknowledges the new condition of active audiences and recognises new opportunities for narrative, by affording audiences a central role in its unfurling.

The project has been a resounding success and has received special commendations from some of the leading national media channels, for example, Culture File on RTE Lyric FM and a review by Marie Boran in The Irish Times, as well as local media on Trinty College’s News and Events website.

As a pioneering production of augmented reality drama, the project is a ground-breaking milestone for: V-SENSE; Volograms, a domestic SME leading VR, AR and Mixed Reality (MR) technologies for the creative cultural industries; and, the Trinity Centre for Beckett Studies at the Dept. of Drama (TCD), who were pivotal in the production, translation and dramaturgical direction of the Beckett’s story.