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Royal Shakespeare Company

Theater-Spatial Computing Fellows Selected

RSC Royal Shakespeare Company logoThe Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, and spatial computing pioneer Magic Leap in Plantation, Florida, have given six individuals the opportunity to discover the future of digital theater through the partnership's first-ever fellowships program. The initiative was first announced in October.

The six fellows are Thomas Buckley, an installation artist; Sharon Clark, a playwright and dramaturg; Lou Doye, a producer; James Horn, a game artist; Zoë O'Shea, a digital game researcher; and James Simpson, a creator of 3D visualizations. They have been chosen to explore the future of theater innovation and what that could mean for audiences in the future.

As part of the one-year fellowship they will receive expert input from the RSC and Magic Leap technologists, as well as from i2 media research Limited at Goldsmiths University of London and from the University of Portsmouth. Throughout the fellowship they will cover everything from dramaturgy and stage design to user experience, audience insight, and developer skills while building on their existing experience and knowledge. Each fellow will get a week residency at Magic Leap exploring that firm's technology, skills and expertise, and spend time with the RSC working alongside its creative teams.

The fellows' journey will be chronicled in a series of blogs led by Nesta, an innovation foundation, at

The results of this research and development program will shape the next stage of the RSC and Magic Leap partnership, including the development of major projects such as creating large-scale theatre performances using spatial computing.

"We wanted to find the next generation of creative technologists who can help us to change the face of live performance experiences for people around the world," Sarah Ellis, RSC director of digital development, said in a company press release. "The six fellows bring a huge amount of experience and knowledge to the project, and we are very excited to work with them to discover what's next for audiences in terms of digital theater experiences and how storytelling can be brought to life."

"Magic Leap is proud and tremendously excited to be supporting the fellowship program," Andy Lanning, Magic Leap executive creative director, said in the RSC release. "We are looking forward to seeing what the fellows can create using Magic Leap's spatial computing and technology alongside our wonderful collaborators, the Royal Shakespeare Company, i2 Media, and the University of Portsmouth. Our hope is that this pioneering program will help shape and create new opportunities for future students and new roles for future employment in this developing sector."

Thomas Buckley of Brighton is an installation artist creating large-scale projection and sculpture work. He's interested in where tech and humanity meet and makes spaces that inspire curiosity and discovery, and he runs frequent mixology classes in self-made immersive spaces. "Recently I've been exploring spaces that become stronger through human experience, creating work that allows us to feel reconnected and human in digital surroundings," he said in the release. "I have a passion for accessible art and believe we should design beautifully for everyone." Buckley, originally from North Wales, also has a passion for nature and studies and rears exotic butterfly and moth species.

Sharon Clark of Bristol is a playwright, dramaturge, and creative director of Raucous, an immersive theater company that fuses live performance, music, film, and creative digital technology. Clark wrote and developed The Stick House and Ice Road for Raucous. As a playwright she has worked with Theatre 503, National Theatre Studio, the Arcola, the New Diorama, Theatre West, Bath Theatre Royal, Bristol Old Vic, and Watford Palace Theatre. She is a resident at Bristol's Pervasive Media Studio and recently worked with Aardman Animations on the BBC virtual reality film, Is Anna Okay? She was awarded a Bruntwood prize for her play, Plow, and her plays have been shortlisted for the Yale Drama Prize, the National Theatre Playwright's Award, and the PapaTango Prize. In 2018 she was awarded a fellowship with the South West Creative Technology Network exploring advancements in immersion and performance. Clark is from Stratford-upon-Avon.

Lou Doye of Portsmouth is a producer originally trained at London Contemporary Dance School. Doye became a producer to generate novel and innovate audience experiences using new technologies. She worked for Chichester Festival Theatre and became an artistic director of The Theatre Royal Portsmouth before setting up her own company to explore new imaginative territories with XR. She spent her childhood in Hampshire.

James Horn of Warwick studied Drama at Aberystwyth University, where he founded the experimental Word Theatre Company in 1996. Moving to Warwick in 1999 he began his training as a game artist, joining Codemasters in 2002. Following the award-winning Colin McRae: DiRT in 2007, Horn moved to FreeStyleGames and was a part of the team creating DJ Hero 1 and 2. In 2012, Horn established the art department at startup mobile developer Kwalee while also art directing all the company's mobile games. In 2016, he joined Pixel Toys as lead artist, creating the hit VR game Drop Dead on Oculus platforms and Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Realm War. Horn also is from Stratford-upon-Avon.

Zoë O'Shea of London has worked in a variety of artistic, creative, and technical roles since moving to the United Kingdom from Dublin, Ireland. She is pursuing her doctorate in digital games at Goldsmiths University of London, working at the intersection between game design and player psychology.

James Simpson of London has spent the past 10 years creating 3D visualizations at the Royal Opera House and has worked on some of the world's biggest and most exciting projects including The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Ceremonies, Miss Saigon, and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. He has been a pioneer in developing immersive media tools for theater design visualization and is currently undertaking a part-time doctorate in visualization for theater design at Rose Bruford College and University of East London. He was a runner-up for the Microsoft/Unity Hololens Competition, and his app Holomachine was honoredd in the Plasa Awards for Innovation. He also was nominated for T3 Tech Innovator of The Year 2018 and won Immersive Pioneer of The Year by Virtual Perceptions.

March 12, 2019

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