Towards a new era for theatre and theatres

Mar 27, 2023 | Articles |

On the occasion of the 27th March 2023, World Theatre Day

A symbol of Porto city and an iconic building of modernist architecture, Coliseu do Porto has been, since 1941, a stage for all audiences and a wide range of arts. A theatre where the classic-style decor coexists with advanced equipment and technology, thus creating a unique environment that is fully prepared to host the best shows in the world. An eclecticism that has come to be the measure and identity of this venue of infinite possibilities.

Theatre as a performing art and an element of intangible cultural heritage, is part of the Coliseus’ identity and activity. Though it is characterised by the ephemerality of performances, regarding those attending as audience, as well as for those actors and artists performing on stage. It is precisely this need to transcend the ephemeral, on the one hand, and to enhance accessibility (both for both public and artists), on the other, that are behind PERMIERE. And if it can be said that watching a play is, in itself, an immersive experience, we’re positive that the tools of Artificial Intelligence [AI], Augmented Reality [XR] and Virtual Reality [VR] will enrich users’ understanding and experience.

PREMIERE combines the strengths of a large consortium of 12 partners from 6 different countries. It promoted research on theatre and dance and the development of state-of-the-art technology. With an accumulated experience and wide range of halls, Coliseu, will play an active role in the implementation of these innovative solutions, as the institution that will coordinate the end user pilots of the project. The pilots will evolve around the application of AI and XR technologies for theatre and dance. Specifically, Coliseu will host in its venue the project pilot about XR enhancement and broadcasting of live performances, focusing on the interaction of the audience with the performers using virtual reality headsets.

Technology and virtual reality have already contributed to the growth of visual arts. Cutting-edge AI, XR and VR technologies will likewise boost theatre and enable a myriad of new opportunities:

  • immersive live experiences that will bring the audience closer to the actors and will allow them to travel through the scene;
  • remote fruition that will transport end-users to the middle of a theatre audience, enabling them an experience very close to that of a concert hall;
  • development of accessibility tools for people with functional diversity;
  • documentation of the present time performances for the audiences of the future,
    ensuring the sustainability of the theatres' cultural heritage.

As part of the PREMIERE project, we face this World Theater Day, and those to come, with the expectation of a more plural, sustainable and accessible future for the performing arts.

© Photo by Lara Jacinto