Virtual Theatres: An Introduction

‘World’s first virtual reality theatre platform’ launches
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It is, at its simplest, a useful archiving project for theatrical history, but it is directly relevant to contemporary performance practice as well. Our presentation which includes a demonstration of the VR model and the motion capture it requires takes the form of two closely linked papers that share a single abstract. The two papers will be given by two people, one of whom will be physically present in Utrecht, the other participating via Skype. These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different.

Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one. Repository Staff Only: item control page. QUT Home Contact. Home Browse About. Over the past decades the advancement of technology and its subsequent introduction to the humanities has led to the development of several applications that enhance study and research in disciplines such as Classics, History, English, and Linguistics.

On the other hand, in areas, such as archaeology and epigraphy, the creation of projects that provide access to 3D models of the artifacts as well as to virtual replications of ancient sites has resulted in the opening of new areas of research and reconsideration of traditional research methods as well as questions. A problem that is yet to be considered, though, is how a scholar and a student are to perceive Classical drama, the theatrical place, the distances between the actors, the chorus, and the audience, the logistics of the performance, and the cultural aspects at play.

This paper discusses the importance of experiential learning and the use of mixed reality as a means of promoting traditional edification methods, virtually recreating the actuality of the stage, and presents the Magic Mirror Theater, a web application designed to facilitate the understanding of Classical drama. There have been several attempts at reviving the circumstances of performance in the actual physical place. Studies have focused on information that is provided to us through the texts, inscriptional evidence as well as archaeological and spatial constituents. Walton in his collection of essays titled Living Greek Theater: A Handbook of Classical Performance and Modern Production furnishes the reader with information on classical performance and then re-conceptualizes it on the contemporary stage, while discussing staging issues.

Mary-Kay Gamel through the Ajax project in , one of the most recent attempts at restaging Classical drama, reconstructed Ajax , modernized the setting, and reshaped the characters to imbue them with modernity while retaining the classical aura.

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Helene Foley [ Foley ] [ Foley ] has developed profoundly insightful studies into the reconstruction of performances. Richard Beacham [ Beacham ] reviews various projects in the reconstruction and study of ancient theaters through virtual reconstructions. The above brief survey indicates that unlike other literary genres, Classical drama requires a two-pronged approach — a theoretical one that encompasses literary and socio-political attributes of the plays and a dramaturgical one that is meant to comprehend the practical aspects of works that were meant to be performed and not simply read.

Therefore, when one teaches Classical drama, the literary analyses overshadow a pivotal aspect of those works. Bibliographical surveys of modern performances, even though they start from the dramaturgical premise, provide the readers with a different yet still literary discussion of a performance, with the reader missing the dramatic component. Experiential Learning 3. The advantages of experiential learning were apprehended very early on. Dewey, an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer in the late 19th—early 20th century, first suggested and implemented the paradigm of effective teaching that combines traditional methodologies with real-life experiences so as to achieve the most effective and truly pedagogical experiences.

He first tested this reconsideration of traditional teaching in his experimental Laboratory School in Chicago and in published his book The School and Society in which he explicates his rationale, methods, methodology, and the practical results. The aforementioned three aspects of experiential learning are on par with the precepts of digital humanities theories and pedagogy.

Therefore, since this initial appreciation of experiential learning by Dewey, there have been extensive studies on the pivotal role of digital pedagogy that may include teaching of new technologies or digital critical thinking to reconsider traditional research questions [ Barmpoutis et al. The contributors argue that new technologies, digital interactions with traditional research topics, and the collaborative spirit of such trajectories enhance critical thinking that only stems from new technologies but is not dependent upon them.

In the areas of classical studies, the significance of teaching via digital methods and against the backdrop of digital methodologies is extensively discussed in [ Bodard et al. Finally, in a broader sense but against that same backdrop of new media and its relation with the user, [ Manovich ] discusses visual and media cultures and the ways in which reality and illusion are re created as well as their contact with and influence of the viewer and vice versa.

Experiencing Classical Drama 5. Based on the aforementioned attempts at theatrical recreation as well as the undeniable advantages of experiential learning, what is the principal component lacking in traditional teaching and research of Classical drama? What are the inherent characteristics of theatrical performances that cannot be captured via traditional readings, recitations, or class performances?

Scholars and students of classical studies very early familiarize themselves with the technical knowledge regarding, for instance, the number of actors male actors , the members of the chorus in tragic plays, 24 in comic plays , the fact that orchestras traditionally were circular with the exception of the theater of Thorikos, where it is rectangular , and the diameter of the orchestra in the theater of Epidaurus 20m.

However, how feasible is it for them to apply this knowledge to the real world, and, more specifically, is it possible to truly comprehend the movements of the limited number of actors when they need to leave the stage, change costumes in order to impersonate another character, and then return while the chorus is singing for lines? Also, can modern audiences really understand the performance of female roles by male actors? Theater is the space par excellence that necessitates and effectuates the confluence of several parameters — stage as a construction, people both as actors and viewers, and the cultural ambience of the play itself as well as of the time when the performance takes place.

Absence of any of the above not only sullies the equilibrium, but also denotes utter failure of the endeavor. The place, the individual as an actor or viewer within that place, and the cultural context within which plays were written and performed in the ancient world need to be recaptured so as to acquire a historical, cultural, and theatrical situatedness, thus procuring a notional space for the theatrical performance.

So arguably the missing component is the intangible, namely the co-existence of space and actors as well as the cultural aura. Virtual reality and the creation of immersive virtual worlds can effectuate tangibility of what thus far has been considered intangible cultural heritage. Thus far the research community has attempted to fill the vacuum with the production of historical games, the emergence of which alone is enough to prove the exigency for the recreation of past worlds if we are to achieve a more profound level of understanding.

The creation of experiences [ Hobbs et al. A basic point of historical gamification, however, is that, albeit carrier of historical and cultural relatability for the players, it is not meant to insist on historical accuracy. Virtual and Mixed Reality 9. Gamification of history seems to be an obvious response to the need to envision yourself as a participant in a historical event, therefore better comprehending the cultural and socio-political issues at play. Virtual worlds constitute exactly this digital space — the place, the ambience, and the people.

This section furnishes a survey of virtual reality applications that attempt to minimize the lack of physical contact between their field of study and the individual user and then proceeds to discuss the enhanced reality ies available through mixed-reality environments. These projects can be divided into three main categories: a projects that involve the development of 3D virtual models of ancient objects, b simulations of 3D virtual environments, and c experiential-learning systems.

All three categories of projects have added significantly to the promotion of classical research. The online published version of the project consists of medium quality rendered still images and videos of the 3D models. The project started in and was completed in The online published version of the project consists of rendered still images in small, medium, and high quality and panorama videos of the 3D models.

The reconstruction was based on literary evidence. The projects focus on the study of the architectural and urban design of the aforementioned sites. Rendered images and videos of the 3D models are also available on-line. The interactive presentations include photographic material, text, and 3D models. The projects were the results of a collaboration between Alexandria University and Arkansas University and are available on-line in the form of interactive Java applets.

This project was in part funded by the NEH. Simulations of 3D virtual environments The goal of this project is to quantitatively analyze and understand the human activities and the use of the spaces in the Great Temple of Petra, Jordan. Computer simulation of ancient sailing was the focus of an interdisciplinary project at the University of Calgary in The goal of this project was to understand the strengths and limitations of ancient transportation means.

Interactive environments for experiential learning The project's main goal is to develop a game-based classroom technology that can be used in general as a prototype for educational games. The educational content is gradually presented to the users by solving game challenges. Professors and students of law have designed a digital model of a virtual court building to practice law, using Second Life as a classroom software application.

There are similar experiential learning uses of Second Life reported in other academic fields. The development of the aforementioned projects clearly indicates that academic communities consider it necessary to enhance traditional research and teaching methodologies and that virtual reality can play a significant role in this endeavor. However, it is obvious that the existing projects are limited either by the modality of the content or by the delivery mechanism of the educational material.

Additionally, they all lack the synaesthetic parameter that can actually grant a degree of reality and understanding that can be afforded through the stimulation of more senses than vision. Therefore, an advanced solution to this limitation that would also enhance the perception of the theatrical space is the creation of a mixed reality [ Milgram at al.

Experiential learning is a well-studied research area, and the connection between embodied action and learning outcome has been extensively examined [ Alibali at al. Additionally, there is strong scholarship in different academic fields to support that mixed-reality environments enhance the educational experiences, leading to better learning outcomes. The Magic Mirror Theater project implements state-of-the-art technologies for experiential learning, using virtual reality and natural user interaction.

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The answer to practical issues and questions that tantalize the scholar and the student of Classical drama can be approached and perhaps answered via the design of this mixed-reality environment in which the users can view themselves as tridimensional avatars, play, act and react, practice their knowledge in a given topic, learn through their mistakes, and achieve a fundamental comprehension of their object of study.

Within these parameters, the Magic Mirror Theater utilizes the human cognitive ability that is enhanced when the body interacts with the environment. The concept behind this pilot prototype technique is to open the discussions on Classical drama and move them beyond the text. The Magic Mirror Theater is not meant to replace actual performances in the physical space. However, when limited by a semester-long curriculum, one finds herself resorting to mundane PowerPoint presentations and suggestive readings as well as theoretical performance possibilities. Embodied Experiential Learning and the Magic Mirror Theater Starting form this gaze that is, as it were, directed toward me, from the ground of this virtual space that is of the other side of the glass, I come back toward myself; I begin again to direct my eyes toward myself and to reconstruct myself and to reconstitute myself there where I am.

The Magic Mirror Theater is a technologically advanced educational tool for the effective and comprehensive study of Classical drama. The program involves the 3D digitization of ancient theaters as well as other objects for theatrical performance such as replicas of props, costumes, and mechanical devices. The users can walk in life-size replicas of Classical theaters, interact with virtual objects, using virtual-reality technology, and ultimately understand the circumstances of performance in the Greco-Roman world.

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Virtual Theatres: An Introduction [Gabriella Giannachi] on ykoketomel.ml *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. The first full-length book of its kind to offer an. The first full-length book of its kind to offer an investigation of the interface between theatre, performance and digital arts, Virtual Theatres presents the theatre of.

Thus far, teaching methodologies for Classical drama in higher education have been limited to the study of the plot from the original text in conjunction with secondary bibliography that provides information regarding the circumstances of performance based on archaeological and literary evidence. This method of studying and analysis of the text, however, has left gaps in knowledge and room for subjective, or even incorrect interpretations, especially when spatiotemporal interactions of the portrayed characters play a significant role in the study of the original text.

To find the answers to such questions, one needs to combine archaeological, historical, topographical knowledge, and possibly to visit the archaeological sites in order to understand the size of the available spaces as well as the physical environment and its implicit role in the play.

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More specifically, the conception of place can be grasped as the user gets to be the avatar walking in the tridimensional space, and the usage of props enhances the apprehension of historical situatedness, as the users can navigate a space imbued with images and the culture of the past. Admittedly this is a component that is still lacking in games. Computer programs, like all texts, will always be ideological constructions. Rather, place is the product and the producer of a dynamic fusion of sign system, physical reality and interpretant. The classroom projector or computer screen can be used as a magic mirror in which the users can see themselves standing in the middle of a virtual theater, which is a real-life digital replica of the well-known ancient theater of Epidaurus.

On the contrary, the users can use their natural body motion and everyday life gestures to give instructions to the computer. Scholars and students are found to be familiar with natural user interface platforms that already exist in the majority of households due to their affordable price range, according to national reports [ Pew Report ]. This prototype system uses the information acquired from the depth sensor to instantly reconstruct the 3D body image of the user, which is displayed as a real-time 3D holographic video stream in the middle of the virtual theater.

The camera follows the motion of the users, who can move, walk, act, dance as the corresponding motion is instantly transferred to their 3D holographic image in the virtual scene. The prototype system was built as an HTML5 application using webGL for the rendering of the 3D content avatars and theater and webSockets for communicating in real-time with the depth sensor.

The depth sensor tracked in real time the body motion of the users by fitting a joint skeletal model to their 3D silhouette using the J4K Java for Kinect library that was originally developed for real-time 3D body reconstruction and human avatar synthesis [ Barmpoutis ]. The real-time sequence of tracked skeletons was transferred to the prototype system that displayed composed 3D scene.

The users can intuitively understand the size of the stage and the structure of the theater by simply walking in the virtual space and by visually comparing the size of their holographic body with the size of the depicted virtual elements of the theater, which is an automatic process of our brain that is triggered any time one visits a new space [ Glenberg et al. The latter is a useful feature, as it facilitates the understanding of those parts that involve the members of the chorus dancers , whose number varies across authors and plays. The Magic Mirror Theater educational system covers cross-disciplinary material on Classical drama, and its implementation is based on archaeological evidence on the number of actors and choristers, their gender restrictions actors in Classical Greece were exclusively male , the theater in which it was originally performed, the season and time of the performance relative to the sunrise or the sunset , the structure of the theater type, size, auxiliary rooms available, etc.

The material is presented to the users through an experiential-learning environment that can be used either by the instructor as a novel teaching tool, or by the scholar of Classical drama who will ultimately understand better the circumstances of performance in the Greco-Roman world by personally interacting with the aforementioned virtual objects. The ultimate goal is to recreate not only the place itself but the ambience of that place as well.

Creating a more subjective experience by collapsing the distance between the real and the virtual, the Self and the Other, through a first-person point of view emphasizes the transparent immediacy of the game space. The Magic Mirror Theater prototype environment. Screenshots of the prototype Magic Mirror Theater mixed-reality system for experiential learning. The classroom projector or computer screen is transformed into a magic mirror in which the users can see themselves standing in a virtual environment the corresponding images from the real environment are shown in the lower right corner of each image.

The images show the user walking in the environment, interacting with virtual objects, and wearing virtual costumes. Note that these virtual objects and clothing do not exist in the real environment shown at the lower right corner of figures 1 and 2. Image below : Screenshots of the early prototype of the proposed educational software.

The software runs as a web application and does not require additional installation. The screenshots show the digital model of the ancient theater of Epidaurus from different perspectives figure 3. The instructor can control the synchronized motion of the chorus shown in figure 4 , or act in the middle of the stage figure 5. Depending on the type of play, different virtual costumes and props will be available as well as different preconfigured arrangements of virtual actors on the stage. I would like to emphasize that all these images were screen captured from the continuous 25 frames per second visual output of the mixed-reality program.

Experimental Results In this section I present the results of a preliminary user testing that was performed in order to quantitatively evaluate the prototype software as an educational tool. The number of students who participated in this study was Although the sample size of this preliminary test was limited, and therefore its results are not conclusive, they clearly indicate a notable increase in the students' level of comprehension.

Furthermore, in order to further objectify these inferences, the initial experiments were conducted on quantifiable questions pertaining to the size and space of the ancient theater of Epidaurus. The experiment was designed using photographs and a 3D model of the ancient theater of Epidaurus.

The goal of the experiment was to test whether the students understand better the tridimensional structure of the theater using traditional teaching methodologies, such as photographs in a slideshow, or using the prototype interactive software.

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The first fundamental element of tridimensional topology that one could test is the perception of the scale, which was the key question in the test, and was also used as a metric for quantitative analysis. In general, the perception of the scale is associated with the human ability to compare the size of an unknown object with the size of a known reference, such as our own body.

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This relative comparison generates the perception of scale. In order to avoid any potential biasing related to the missing of a scale reference, the experiment was designed in such a way so that both modalities i. The following pictures show three examples of 2D images that were shown to the students. The slide show also contained architectural floor plans of the theater. The first question was to estimate the diameter of the orchestra the circular stage.

This question was given to the students before the slide show, so that they would concentrate on the elements of the pictures that could help them understand the scale. After the end of the slide show, the students submitted their answers individually. It should be noted that none of the students knew the correct answer before the experiment. The students had this experience individually, and then they were asked to estimate again the diameter of the orchestra based on their mixed-reality experience.

Finally, the students were asked to choose which of the two modalities was more informative in terms of determining the scale. The possible answers to this question were: a the 2D images, b the 3D prototype system, and c they were equally informative. The histogram of responses to the first two questions is plotted below. A quick observation based on the above histogram is that the responses obtained using the proposed system were less scattered compared to the responses from the 2D image slide show, which suggests that the 3D interactive system increased the certainty of the students' responses.

Furthermore, a larger concentration of responses around the ground truth i. These observations also agree with the quantitative evaluation that was performed in the collected data samples and is presented below. This tool computes the mean of the fitted probability model as well as the standard deviation spread. The mean corresponds to the average response to each question and is depicted in the above plot as a vertical line dotted line for the 2D slideshow case and dashed line for the 3D interactive system case. By observing the results, it is clear that the average response in the case of the proposed system is twice as close to the correct answer compared to the responses from the 2D slide show.

This improvement is quantitatively evaluated using three different metrics: a absolute mean error, b absolute median error, and c standard deviation, which corresponds to the certainty, and the results are presented in the following table.

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However, several students from this category indicated that still the proposed system was more informative with respect to the spatial relationship of the theater with the surrounding environment and other surrounding structures. Future Directions and Conclusion In this paper the Magic Mirror Theater was presented, a web application designed to facilitate the study of Classical drama.

The merits of experiential learning and virtual reality clearly suggest that in areas of research, such as archaeology and theater, spatiotemporal information is crucial for our comprehension. In the future, an extended fully functioning version of this project as an HTML5 open-source software will be published. Furthermore, the project will be developed to include more theatrical venues from the ancient world so that the users may have the possibility to choose. The project will be enhanced by the addition of masks, attire, and other props and stage material, which the users will be able to select and appear to be holding on the screen.

A fully functioning version of the project with the aforementioned features will allow further user testing using more complex hypotheses that will assess the long-term learning curve of the students as a semester-long experience and assessment, which is the primary future goal of this project.

The scope of this project is to recreate to the highest degree possible ancient performances of Classical drama within their original space. The potential of such an undertaking would be to afford the users the opportunity to participate and better grasp the socio-cultural dynamics at play. See [ Foka et al.