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Academic Report: Punchdrunk Theatre

July 29, 2015

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Authors: Dan Dixon, Jon Rogers, Paul Egglestone
Abstract: This report is an account of the Digital R&D Fund for Arts and Culture funded Digital R&D
project between Punchdrunk Theatre, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and
researchers from the University of the West of England, Bristol, the University of Dundee
and the University of Central Lancashire. This project aimed to test whether an online
interactive experience could be created that in some way matches the quality of the physical
and visceral, live experience that is at the heart of immersive work. The experiment would
attempt to join two audience members together to experience a coherent, shared storyline.
One physically present in the space of Sleep No More, one online, remotely on a laptop or
other computer.
This research is of benefit to the wider sector because at present there are several ways of
digitally capturing live performances, but very few, if any, ways that audiences can digitally
interact with the work. While there is an increasing audience appetite for two-way
interaction with theatre, this is by-and-large limited to the live experience of presence. The
audience need to be in the room in order to interact with the show. As the appetite for
interactive and site-specific work grows, and various aspects of this work move into
mainstream theatre, this research could provide significant evidence for a growing part of
the sector that has a desire to connect to audiences not just in the room but across the web.
So, the idea of a digitally expanded theatre experience is at stake in this work. Can we
achieve more with digital than merely extending the size of the auditorium using a broadcast

Where: Digital R&D Fund for Arts and Culture
Publication date: 31/05/2012
Document: pdf