Control and Being Controlled: Exploring the use of Technology in an Immersive Theatre Performance

Wiseman, Sarah; van der Linden, Janet; Spiers, Ad and Oshodi, Maria (2017). Control and Being Controlled: Exploring the use of Technology in an Immersive Theatre Performance. In: DIS 2017: Designing Interactive Systems Conference 2017, ACM, New York, USA, pp. 3–14.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3064663.3064694

Abstract

Immersive theatre is a growing trend within theatre entertainment: audience members can now wander around performances and choose how the story unfolds in front of them. Technology can be used to create novel, multi-modal experiences for audiences in these performances; but when the rules of such an experience are ill-defined, how do users react to this technology? We present an evaluation of 25 performances of an immersive, in the dark performance. Issues of control can arise in situations where technology becomes an important part of such a performance. Participants take and relinquish control in three key areas: navigation, exploration and attention during the performance, and this affects their perception of both technology and the piece itself. We discuss how technology can play a positive role in immersive theatre and other cultural settings, yet its use must be carefully choreographed to ensure the audience experience matches the intended goal.

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