Playing the Bard in the Immersive Realm

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Abstract

Immersive experiences push the boundaries of traditional theatre, blurring the line between audience and creator. This case study shares observations and reflections on audience agency in “Shakespeare’s Garden: An Immersive Sound Stroll through His Sonnets, Soliloquies, and Scenes.” Guided by spatial audio and images projected onto large scrims, audience members followed a meandering path through a transformed black box theatre. Engaged in their own exploration, audience members experienced recordings of Shakespeare texts and garden soundscapes. Where does the ownership of the art lie in immersive works? Is the work owned, or authored, by its creators? Or, by the very essence of being immersive, is it the audience member who owns, or authors, the experience? The collaborators of “Shakespeare’s Garden” were particularly invested in audience experience as a means of assessing the project’s success and exploring the potential for the development of future interactive productions.