Hy Brasil
11th July 2019
29th March 2019



A Live and Mixed Reality theatrical experience

Is the Emperor wearing any clothes?


  • The disputed territories of reality and truth
  • The shaken narrative
  • Trust
  • The relationship between power and truth
  • Breaking from dominant political and social narratives

We live in a world where reality and truth are now very much disputed territories. The myriad of connections created by digital platforms has resulted in a myriad of realities and truths. The formerly stable narratives about the world around us have been shaken, splintered, cast into doubt. Do vaccines save lives, or damage our children’s health? Is President Assad a monster, or the saviour of his people?

Are migrants just ordinary people seeking safety, or a horde of dangerous criminals? Are the news reports we consume balanced, reliable and honest, or the product of a corrupt ‘fake news media’? Or to return to the oldest question of them all: Is the Emperor wearing any clothes?

This project looks at who and what can we trust in an age of social media groupthink, blatant propaganda, and industrial-scale online manipulation. It is an exploration of the nature of truth that looks to develop a brand new performance experience that mixes Virtual Reality technology with more traditional theatre techniques. The artists will work with state of the art equipment such as the Hololens – a visor headset that layers virtual spaces and images onto existing ‘real’ spaces. They will look at what happens when we take an audience from reality to virtual reality, and somewhere in between. The development process will play with the relationship between power and truth, and examine the difficulty of opposing or breaking out of a dominant political or social narrative.

Page 234 of Andersen's fairy tales (Robinson)


Augmented or mixed reality has begun the dialogue with the visual arts. It is our proposal to really engage in the conversation from a Performing Arts perspective through the creation of a live and augmented experience for audiences.

Narrative and human connection engages us all, regardless of the medium, and sometimes as we intend with this project - because of it.


Emperor is a restless panorama of a dystopian near future, a room sized Mixed Reality and Live performance that uses volumetric live capture and a multi-narrative framework to allow the audience to interact with the world and affect the live actors and their actions as well as that in the headset. The live actors will help create a world where everyone is emotionally and psychologically naked. Live music will help root the audience in the real world as we are dragged into the virtual one.

In addition to the live action, volumetric capture systems will capture actors to enable 6 Degrees of Movement interaction. Composed music and sound elements will interact with the spoken word to generate the entire sonic landscape. Unity is the creation tool which will be used to create the user experience.


As a Company that has always sought to embrace available technologies to better tell stories, we believe that this is the future of storytelling. The marriage of screens and live performance is inevitable. Theatre needs to evolve to take account of the myriad technologies surrounding us, before they overwhelm us and make us irrelevant, especially to a younger generation.

Emperor seeks to use the burgeoning technologies of Mixed Reality and in particular the Ocultus Rift platform which allows the wearer to experience reality as we experience it, and an over-layered reality in animated and/or live recorded layers.

Much of the knowledge base and the personnel connections required for the creation of this kind of work came from the company’s most recent SPACE Programme which focussed particularly on Arts and Technology.

It is our intention to engage in R+D on this project in Canada in 2019 with long time collaborators Boca del Lupo, who now also run the Granville Island Theatre District, Camille Donegan of VR Ireland who are at the forefront of this work in Ireland, and SPACE Programme alumni graduates, coder and designer Leon Butler, and Composer Peter Power.

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