Silhouette in front of a large screen projection

Dream is an online theatre and gaming experience like no other

Shakespeare would have his mind blown by Dream. It’s a pioneering new online theatre show that blends live performance (real actors playing in real time), motion capture and gaming technology (allowing live audiences to interact with the live actors) to create an immersive fantasy set in a midsummer forest conjured up in the Bard’s imagination more than 420 years ago.

Inspired by one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (first performed in 1600), this new show is a pioneering collaboration between the Royal Shakespeare Company, Manchester International Festival (MIF), tech magicians Marshmallow Laser Feast and Philharmonia Orchestra.

Dream is set in a forest populated by Shakespearean fairies and sprites, lead by Puck. With a fantastical world overlaying the natural one, the multi-layered environment of Dream mirrors how audiences will experience it, with virtual reality overlaying live theatre. While the details of the show are shrouded in mystery until the live performances start online on Tuesday 16 March, a short introduction sets the scene:

Come with us on an extraordinary journey into the eye of the storm. Under the shadow of gathering clouds at dusk, lit by the glimmer of fireflies, the natural world is in peril. Can you help Puck to rebuild the forest before dawn?

Dream can be experienced in two ways. A strictly limited number of £10 tickets are available for each 50-minute performance, which will allow viewers to interact with the characters in real time, using gaming technology to influence the path of the narrative. Each performance will be unique due to these interactions. There will also be a free ticket option, which will allow viewers to watch the performance live, but not interact with the characters.

Dream is one outcome of a years-long arts-tech discovery project called ‘Audiences of the Future’, the aim of which is to imagine and create exciting new ways for us all to experience art. ‘From DYSTOPIA987, Skepta’s extraordinary mixed-reality experience created for MIF19, to Dream, the learnings from these ambitious and collective approaches to live performance will help us imagine new boundary-pushing ways to present work in The Factory, MIF’s future home being built in the heart of Manchester,’ says Gaby Jenks, MIF’s Digital Director.

Dream runs 12 — 20 March 2021, online. Tickets are available from midday Monday 8 February via dream.online

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