Chichester Festival Theatre takes centre SmartStage® to celebrate 60th anniversary with immersive production technology

To mark its 60th anniversary, Chichester Festival Theatre (CFT) has created DIGITAL STAGES – five dynamic digital events celebrating the theatre’s history across the decades. The series will be released over CFT’s anniversary week in July for audiences across the globe. With a view to utilising the most cutting-edge, immersive production technology to bring this milestone occasion to life, CFT chose technical solutions specialist White Light (WL)’s SmartStage® to deliver the flagship event.

SmartStage immersive production technology

Harnessing the extended reality (XR) capabilities of WL’s SmartStage studio in London, CFT Artistic Director Daniel Evans was filmed in conversation with actors Sir Derek Jacobi and John Simm. Together they explored 60 years of extraordinary theatre, with a ground-breaking virtual recreation of the 1962 Festival Theatre, as the backdrop. Using LiDAR technology, specialist visualisation consultancy Preevue created a digital twin of the Festival Theatre auditorium.  This enabled them to recreate the original stage design, using a combination of plans, photographs and archive records of the furniture and fittings. The visualisations were then integrated into the SmartStage immersive production environment.

Other special guests, including author and playwright Kate Mosse anddesigner Joanna Scotcher, participated in the event via remote video calls. Meanwhile, the Artistic Director of the Stratford Festival Theatre in Ontario, Canada, Antoni Cimolino, was virtually ‘teleported’ to join Daniel on the SmartStage for the discussion. This was the first time that the XR technology powering SmartStage enabled a historical theatre design to be brought back to life.

Daniel Evans says: ‘What better way to celebrate Chichester Festival Theatre’s 60th anniversary than by using cutting edge digital technology to recreate the 1962 stage in all its glory? We were incredibly excited to harness this technology for the first time to connect with audiences regionally, nationally and internationally, and wonderful to see our distinguished guests relishing these new possibilities.’

Jason Larcombe, WL’s Senior Project Manager adds: “It was great to see how comfortable the guests became when using this immersive production technology, as they stood on the stage and were immediately immersed in the 1962 world that they could see all around them. It brought back so many memories and anecdotes from those who has physically stood on the stage as younger actors and offered a really new way to bring history to life.”

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