To Be With Hamlet

Live theater in Virtual Reality

To Be With Hamlet is a virtual reality production of a scene from Hamlet incorporating live performance motion capture and social VR.  The audience experiences the piece in a VR headset, such as the HTC Vive, that affords room-scale mobility within the VR scene.  They enter a CG scene (created within the Unreal game engine) that allows them to explore Hamlet’s castle at Elsinore, and see each other as ghostly aparitions.  The play’s characters are represented as CG avatars, some of which are 3d scans of the actual actor playing the role. The actors perform live in a motion capture studio, as their motion data and voices are streamed into the game engine for the audience to see in real time.


The project arose out of an investigation into various aspects of VR experience: how to capture the energy and dynamic of a live theatrical performance in VR; what must be considered in terms of dramaturgy and stagecraft to create a successful narrative production in this medium; what degree and type of agency gives the audience the best experience of presence within the world of the play; and, finally, how presenting a theatrical production in this medium can uniquely illuminate aspects of the character and story.

The project was featured at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2017, and also appeared at VR Days Europe festival in Amsterdam, the Kaleidoscope summer showcase in New York, the NYC Media Lab Summit and the NYC Media Lab Exploring Future Reality conference.

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