Theatre Engine
Cast and Crew


Theatre Engine explores the use of mobile devices as a method to connect an audience to a live performance.  This project has three phases; "Dancer Toss," "FlashMob," and "Puzzle." The performance workshop for "Dancer Toss" was held in May 2013 and tested the current progress of this multi-mdia collaboration between dance, music, computer, and smart phone. The performance workshop for "Flash Mob" was held in April 2014 and was performed again at St. Olaf College and Brigham Young University in March 2015.

Prototype of the Phases of Theatre Engine
This video, created in 2012, shows a prototype of the intended interaction in the three sections.

As each phase is developed changes occur and the incorporation of the audience (as performers) will be tested in workshops in 2014 and 2015. This project uses the creative artistry of professionals from fields as diverse as choreography and computer science.

Detailed Project Description for Theatre Engine
In "Dancer Toss" two dancers are on stage and one runs behind a large screen upstage.  The dancer immediately appears on the large screen as an animation and runs off the large screen onto the mobile devices of the audience.  The audience members toss the dancer from cellphone to cellphone.   Music plays from the cellphone and a moving light focuses on the audience member who currently controls the dancer.  This cues the second dancer, who remains on stage, to react and interact with that audience member.

“Flash Mob” takes the concept of audience interaction a bit further, encouraging the audience members to become even more actively engaged in the performance. There are several stages within “Flashmob” - Adjectives, Call and Response, Lights On/Off, Drumcircle and Poses - each gradually increasing audience engagement. This section guides the audience on a journey, ultimately leading to their active participation as actual performers in the space.

In "Puzzle" a different portion of an image appears on each audience member’s phone. It is a small part of a musical instrument. Audience members must stand up and bring phones together to form a whole image. When two phones are correctly aligned a sound is heard. Once the entire image is assembled the audience members can move and wiggle the phones to make musical sounds.  Dancers arrive on stage and the image changes to large cartoon creature that the dancers interact with. Wiggling the phones can make the mouth move or the eyes blink. Groups of audience members, sharing the same creature, are now puppeteers dancing with the dancers.