Categories Communication, Final Project : Immersive Telepresence in Theatre

Adobe Connect & King Lear:Online.

Monday

“Anyone can lecture from the butt, only very few can act.”
― Pawan Mishra, Coinman: An Untold Conspiracy

So Monday came and the drum roll began. The whole week of a technical set-up was the walk up the aisle to finally beginning this process of using telepresence as a technical form, to rehearse William Shakespeare’- King Lear (1604-1606). The students had been given their roles, scenes and acts. They had informally met through Facebook, however they were about to check into ‘Adobe Connect’. Whereby the would be given the bedrock knowledge and history of Shakespeare.

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This was the Kickstart lecture, the day that the students would participate in an ‘Adobe Connect’ room. Whereby Tom could deliver his 2 hour lecture on the subject of Shakespearean theatre. In a normal situation a lecture would be in a classroom, directing this information outwardly.

‘Adobe connect’ is a conferencing software, that enables a multiple layered method to teach within a virtual space. This virtual space is essentially your classroom, whereby you can discuss and share content, videos and ask questions.

It gives another form of communication that is not normally seen within a lecture room or a classroom.  Whereby information is given, but the investment sometimes will not be received back. There is participatory culture, respect and less of ‘lecture’ form, whereby the investment of knowledge can be measured back, through the engagement and participation, that is visual and more intimate.

Participatory culture shifts the focus of literacy from one of individual expression to community involvement.

Henry Jenkins

‘Adobe Connect’ is an essential part of how the students engage with one another outside of the telepresence space, and lets them communicate on a new level. For example last year, when the telepresence screen was switched off, the students went straight into the ‘Adobe connect’ room to continue their engagement with one another.

This lecture to be honest, was more of a performance from Tom. He was sitting behind the telepresence screen, like the ‘Wizard’ from the land of Oz. in what had become his emerald media city. There he connected into this adobe room, where students from Tampere & Coventry connected in. Some from their homes, others were sitting in the student lounge. Listening intently through their earphones & watching on the smart devices.

A smaller video version of Tom, appeared in the right hand side of the screen,and a lecture slide was playing in the centre. Tom could also decide, how the out put would look to the student on their device. Therefore at timed he would share a full window, whereby his screen would look like mission control, with all the media content being projected outwardly.

Behind all of this calmness ” The Gormans’ Guide to Shakespeare” on Adobe connect, was a micro version of the workflow of television production. Tom was the Producer, editor, content manager, presenter and had to also interact with the students. This performance lasted for 2 hours….. its concentration on a dynamic
level of; virtual interaction, timing, performance and content… it is a show of knowledge.

The lecture covered Elizabethan & Jacobean theatre and related in context to historical value & placement. It was an in-depth approach to the many layers of Shakespeare and why his plays are relevant today. Obviously this is in small content as to what was shared and taught to both the Finnish & Coventry students, but Professor James Shapiro gives a small insight into some of the interesting facts, that Tom was sharing with the students over this period of the week.

 

The lecture enabled a sense of community and became more of an active learning space. Even though they may be located in a ‘virtual’ space online, when I observed the students, who were sitting around outside the theatre. They were locked  and immersed into what was happening on their smart device, even if there was have disruption around them, from other students. It reminded me of the same trance, that someone may have when they are walking along and face-timing. They w
ere unaware of their environment and walk into another person, who is rushing by, who is also in their own bubble.

Technology is teaching us to be human again.

– Simon Mainwaring

I sometime struggle with the idea that technology is teaching us to be human again. And in many sense of the word, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that we are now becoming more disconnected than before. This article below describes how generation Y&Z are becoming disconnected and inwardly displaced in human connection & empathy.

Meet Generation Angst: Older Teenagers Are Britain’s Most Disenfranchised And Disconnected Demographic

 

With this ‘hyper-normalised’ reality we find ourselves in on a day to day basis, it is refreshing to see a group of people taking the essence of Shakespeare and collaborating. They are using these technologies create a greater sense of togetherness and creatively practice and push through new forms of communication.

Adobe connect has been a key part to the way that the students connect. It has been the baby brother to the Polycom;Telepresence system, that has assisted with creating this immersive connection. But it once again this is just a layer to the practices of the project.

The telepresence systems and immersive space, have connected Tampere and Coventry together through a screen and limits the (approx) 1500KM distance. It is this combined use of technology, holistic teaching practice and rehearsal methods that are challenging new forms of communication. And it is when the telepresence screen is turned on, that is when we being to learn about identity and methods of expressing ourselves. What are students learning about themselves inwardly, culturally and professionally? What new forms of communication are taking place, when technologies & creative practice are used together an immersive learning space? And finally beyond that, what happens when those people who have only been digitally connected meet?

 

“When Thoreau considered “where I live and what I live for,” he tied together location and values. Where we live doesn’t just change how we live; it informs who we become. Most recently, technology promises us lives on the screen. What values, Thoreau would ask, follow from this new location? Immersed in simulation, where do we live, and what do we live for?”
Sherry Turkle, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other

 


References:

Bibliography

Adobe Connect (2011) Adobe connect for eLearning. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IE_FK298Icg (Accessed: 5 March 2017).
Hooton, C. (2009) HyperNormalisation review (Adam Curtis, BBC iPlayer): A masterfully dark dive into our experience of reality. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/reviews/hypernormalisation-review-adam-curtis-bbc-iplayer-a-masterfully-dark-dive-into-our-dissociative-a7367166.html (Accessed: 5 March 2017).
Jenkins, H. (no date) TOP 17 QUOTES BY HENRY JENKINS | A-Z quotes. Available at: http://www.azquotes.com/author/18348-Henry_Jenkins (Accessed: 5 March 2017).
Turkle, S. (2012) Connected, but alone? Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together#t-751439 (Accessed: 5 March 2017).
Williams, E. (2017) ‘Meet generation angst: Older teenagers are Britain’s most disenfranchised and disconnected demographic’, Huffington Post, 27 February. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/ed-williams/generation-angst_b_15041882.html (Accessed: 5 March 2017).

Citations, Quotes & Annotations

Adobe Connect (2011) Adobe connect for eLearning. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IE_FK298Icg (Accessed: 5 March 2017).
(Adobe Connect, 2011)
Hooton, C. (2009) HyperNormalisation review (Adam Curtis, BBC iPlayer): A masterfully dark dive into our experience of reality. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/reviews/hypernormalisation-review-adam-curtis-bbc-iplayer-a-masterfully-dark-dive-into-our-dissociative-a7367166.html (Accessed: 5 March 2017).
(Hooton, 2009)
Jenkins, H. (no date) TOP 17 QUOTES BY HENRY JENKINS | A-Z quotes. Available at: http://www.azquotes.com/author/18348-Henry_Jenkins (Accessed: 5 March 2017).
(Jenkins, no date)
Turkle, S. (2012) Connected, but alone? Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together#t-751439 (Accessed: 5 March 2017).
(Turkle, 2012)
Williams, E. (2017) ‘Meet generation angst: Older teenagers are Britain’s most disenfranchised and disconnected demographic’, Huffington Post, 27 February. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/ed-williams/generation-angst_b_15041882.html (Accessed: 5 March 2017).
(Williams, 2017)

 

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