Fatherland uses real-time motion capture, virtual reality and audience participation to create a ground-breaking, live theatrical experience exploring the theme of disembodiment in the modern world.
A single performer wears motion tracking devices, which allow his movement to be captured and projected into the virtual environments of his story. A series of audience volunteers are invited to experience this story in immersive virtual reality, with the performer animating multiple characters. The volunteers’ point of- view becomes a first-person lens into unfolding drama,
projected via video stream for the rest of the audience. The audience thus see double: a virtual reality constructed onstage, before their eyes, in real-time. It is both shocking and touching each time a volunteer returns from the virtual world to the present—the audience bear witness to their vulnerability as an imagined moment collides with the real.
Prologue: Ben’s voice emanates from everywhere but his body. First, it speaks from an old cassette tape player; then it pipes through bluetooth speakers. His body, meanwhile, fitted with motion trackers, can become, anything, anywhere, in a virtual world. So Ben invites you onstage, and into a desert, because westerns remind him of his father, and he wants to tell you a story about a father and son and their carer—a story drawn from Ben’s own journey to accept his father’s progressively worsening dementia, his curiosity about all the ways we now live outside our physical bodies, and how easily we construct alternate versions of reality the better to endure our immediate one.
Ben’s story goes like this...
Wayne—a big guy in his mid-30s with a fondness for football, fishing and deepstate conspiracy theories—lives alone with his retired, ailing father in a small apartment off of Interstate 80’s Sacramento corridor, a stretch of strip malls, gas stations, and drive thru fast food chains. Realising his Dad needs care while he is at work (IT support at a local branch at an outdoor equipment store), Wayne contacts a local agency, who send him Esperanza, a middle-aged immigrant from El Salvador. She immediately lifts Dad’s dementia addled spirits—there is a glint of mischief in her eyes, a complement to her sturdy, religious exterior.
But Wayne remains suspicious, distrusting—especially when he starts finding strange offerings
littered around the house: cigarettes under the bed, salt on the windowsill, a shot of rum behind the toilet. When Wayne comes home to find the apartment empty and a crow happily destroying his father’s bedroom, Esperanza has an answer—
Dad doesn’t have dementia, Brujos are taking his father’s soul. The soul leaves the body when we dream, and returns just before we wake. The brujos lure it inside a pillow, instead of the body, trap it there, and then come and collect it. They come in other shapes and forms—they come as birds. They have already taken so much of Wayne’s father. Esperanza has been trying to keep the rest of him safe.
Wayne’s initial response is to fire Esperanza.
But he can’t help but notice when the bedroom window is open, or when Dad’s pillow has fallen to the floor, or when the crows flock in the tree next door. Nor can he help but dive deep into an internet search for ‘soul thieves.’ Which is how Wayne finds himself calling in sick to work so he can set up a video camera in Dad’s closet and lie
in wait between his musty old jackets, like some kind of Planet Earth cinematographer for the paranormal. Unfortunately, it’s the same day that Esperanza decides to pay Dad a surprise visit, and catches Wayne in situ—silent,
stationary, surrounded by moth-eaten sweaters. Esperanza insists that Wayne go to the source: in this case, the seemingly innocuous bedding shop manager who sold them Dad’s pillow.
Though they spy her at the shop, Wayne’s suspicions are raised when he can’t find any trace of her online, and they go haywire when he follows her to a storage unit, and uncovers that she is in partnership with a mysterious pillow-making company, owned by a playboy CEO with a Masters Degree in the transmigration of souls.
Which is how Wayne, Dad and Esperanza end up driving south on I-5 from Sacramento to Los Angeles, through the hot, expansive, agricultural fields, towards the pillow company’s HQ. Except Wayne’s car breaks down, and they are rescued
at dusk by a team of farm-labourers, and towed to a makeshift trailer camp, where Esperanza dances with Dad to tinny rancheros and remembers how she danced with her own father at her communion. The night ends with the three of them piled into a small room, Esperanza telling Wayne how her father disappeared during El Salvador’s Civil War, and that to this day she manages simultaneously to believe that he is alive and know that he is long since dead.
When they finally arrive at the nondescript office block the next day, in the middle of a cookie-cutter industrial boulevard, the shop manager’s car is parked out front. Esperanza wavers; Dad stares vacantly out of the window. In the absence of a plan, Wayne storms into the office, his father and Esperanza in tow, and demands the CEO return his father’s soul, in exchange for which he will keep secret their nefarious plan to transplant stolen souls into recipient bodies and create a race of super-humans. A small part of Wayne is aware of how ridiculous this sounds. He is not alone: Dad suggests, quietly, that they all go home.
Back in the car, watching Esperanza help Dad shuffle across the parking lot, Wayne sobs, convulsing.
On the drive back, Wayne takes a detour into the high desert, to an old ghost town he remembers visiting as a child with his father. There is a motel, where they can stay the night, and the old man out front introduces himself as Cowboy Bob, former Hollywood stuntman and current proprietor. In the backyard, playing in a wide open expanse of copper-tinted dirt and rocky outcrops, is his eight-year old granddaughter. “Why are you here,” she asks Wayne. Wayne tells her they came all this way in search of his father’s soul. Linda points to the flock of birds overhead. “You found it.”
The multitude of birds fly as one.
Ben looks at the murmuration of birds above. When he looks back, the young girl is gone. The desert is quiet. Ben slowly removes the motion trackers, and his virtual body, alone in the desert, jerks and twists, trying to maintain its form, until the avatar disjoints, the algorithms that drive the virtual world no longer able to fill in the gaps in their own data—like a mind struggling to make meaning from the fragments of information it receives.
_ Business Partnership Proposal
This proposal is designed to create significant partnerships with Limbik Theatre Company to support the creation and tour of a live theatre production, Fatherland.
Real-time motion capture performance merges with audience participation, live video-projection and virtual reality to create a pioneering theatrical experience exploring
disembodiment in the modern world. The project will unlock the opportunity for audiences to experiment with inspiring
immersive content and engage with theatre in a new way.
Experienced director and artistic lead for Limbik Ben Samuels calls this:
“A bold new way of creating and experiencing live theatre”
_ THE CONCEPT
Fatherland uses real-time motion capture, virtual reality and audience participation to create a ground-breaking, live theatrical experience.
A solo performer, a swivel chair, and a whole heap of computing power brings to life the story of an elderly man with dementia, his conspiracy-theory minded son, and their
_ THE STORY
Realising his Dad needs care while he is at work, Wayne—a big guy with a fondness for football, fishing and “deep state” conspiracy theories—contacts a local agency, who send
Esperanza, a middle-aged immigrant from El Salvador. She immediately lifts Dad’s dementia-addled spirits—and Wayne’s suspicions—especially when he starts finding strange offerings littered around the house: cigarettes under the bed, salt on the windowsill, a shot of rum behind
the toilet. When Wayne comes home to find the apartment empty and a crow happily destroying his father’s bedroom,
Esperanza’s explanation initiates a chase across that California that becomes a journey of acceptance. Acceptance of his father’s illness, of his own limitations and
prejudices, and of the diversity of lived experience.
“The story is a reflection of my own journey to accept my father’s Parkinson’s induced dementia, and that the person
who he was is no longer present in the world.”
Ben Samuels Limbik Artistic Director.
_ TECHNOLOGY INVOLVED.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
A motion captured performer invites an audience volunteer onstage. The performer, with motion capture trackers, fits an audience volunteer with a VR headset, and asks them where they are—the virtual reality as experienced by the volunteer is then projected live for the rest of the audience to see. The headset the volunteer wears becomes a first person, point of view camera into the virtual world. What
the volunteer sees the audience sees. As the story unfolds, the virtual environments shift around the volunteer, and multiple characters are brought to life in real-time,
by the motion capture performer.
An HTC Vive headset and nine Vive trackers are driven by Ikinema Orion and streamed into Unreal Engine, which are then retargeted to the characters using Ikinema Live Action. Live performance provides unexpected approaches to the equipment, opening up un-thought potential. The set up is affordable, transportable, and tourable.
• Research and book tour
May 2018- September 2018
• Research and create performance
September 2018- October 2018
• Tour- Venues already interested in booking
October 2018- March 2019
_ TARGET AUDIENCE
This performance will attract your typically digitally savvy, who share experiences through social media on their smartphones, and we will encourage a new generation to
theatre through an online story campaign.
Fatherland also matches the interests and experiences of a more mature theatre audience whom may be experiencing dementia through a family member or friend.
Length of experience and performance:
1 hour 15 minutes, full theatre show
15 minutes, Festival and Offline Format
_ BUDGET: TOTAL COST
The Fatherland team have an excellent history in creating performances that tour.
We hope that support for Fatherland at this stage will widen the reach of the project and enable us to build a longer tour for an international marketplace. Our shared experiences have raised funds and built
support for a variety of cultural projects, helping us develop dynamic, tailored fundraising campaigns.
_ FUNDERS AND SUPPORTERS
FOR AN INTERNATIONAL TOUR
Audiences of the Future call from Arts and Humanities Research Council.
European Innovation Network Fund.
Konzept Productions- Italy
_3 VERSIONS OF 1 EXPERIENCE
We will deliver 3 product formats for the development cost, building on the prototype that has already been created. The three different formats emerging are:
a. A full, 75 minute theatre production for audiences of up to 300.
b. A 15 minute festival format (max audience 20) that brings full theatrical production values to a refined version of the piece presented at the commissioning day.
c. An offline first person VR experience, created from the live capture of multiple performances, available on Vive Port, Oculus Home and Steam.
Full, 75 minute theatre production for audiences of up to 300
The finished piece will follow the story outlined in our treatment. We will expand the current fifteen minute prototype story to a seventy-five minute show. Every 10 to 15 minutes, a new volunteer will be welcomed on to the stage to take on a role in the story and be the “POV camera” for the rest of the audience. The show will thus move between the fictional story, which will be constructed in VR and projected, and the immediate present of a performer onstage interacting with the audience. The final piece will utilise all the assets of a professional theatre production, particularly light and sound.
15 minute festival format
The short, 15 minute prototype form will be polished and further developed for digital festival marketplace arenas. For this we would like to bring the production values of the theatre production into the short-form, festival setting with enhanced lighting and sound design and large-scale video projection.
Offline first person VR experience
In addition to the live performance, we will use the live theatre show to create a short film for other platforms such as VIVE Port, Steam and Occulus Home, plus newer standalone VR headsets. We see this as an edited version of the in-engine, VR stream, which may at moments refer to its theatrical origins. Perhaps the viewer begins in a seat in the audience during one of the live shows, and then is brought onstage, to enter into the immersive experience.
_ Project Team
_ LIMBIK MISSION STATEMENT
Limbic System, noun, an interconnected system of nerves and networks in the brain that interprets feelings in the body.
Limbik creates new theatre work that explores human stories from epic environments.We create through collaboration: between actors, writers, directors, and designers, as well as nontheatre makers who bring unique viewpoints and expertise to our work. Distilling often unheard voices into atmospheric works of theatre, we investigate complex ethical,
socially engaged questions, aiming to encourage debate and dialogue.
The company has an innovative approach to participation – involving participants at every stage of the creative process – and teaches the art of theatre-making to students, professionals and community groups from all areas of the UK. The company has delivered over 1000 workshops in
schools, universities, pupil-referral units and colleges. Limbik are Associate Artists at the Cumbria Institute of the Arts and are affiliated with The Garage Performing Arts Centre in Norwich and The Cut Theatre in Halesworth.
_ LIMBIK’S THE FORECAST (2017)
* * * * *
“A gripping, thoughtprovoking script, beautifully directed and brilliantly acted. Not to be missed.”
- The Reviews Hub
* * * *
“Genius... extreme enough to prove a point, but close enough to seem disturbingly real.”
- Fringe Guru
* * * *
“Beautifully written, with some genuinely accomplished and moving performance at its core.”
- Broadway Baby
_ UNIVERSITY OF PORTSMOUTH
RESEARCH AND INNOVATION STRATEGY
The University of Portsmouth delights in creating, sharing and applying knowledge to make a difference to individuals and society.
• We will engage in creating, sharing and applying globally–significant research and innovation that delivers impact and makes a difference to individuals and society.
• We will be a key driver for economic growth and prosperity in our region, as well as establishing strategic international partnerships that will make our research and innovation truly global.
• Our research and innovation excellence will improve our national and international profile and ranking. We will seek to elevate our position amongst the world’s top 500 universities (Times Higher Education World Rankings) and top 150 under 50 years of age (Times Higher Education Rankings.
_ CURRENT SUPPORTERS OF THE PROJECT
_ PROJECT PARTNERS CONTRIBUTIONS
This partnership is proposed to help raise the investment required to enable this innovative project to succeed.
_ LIMBIK ARE OFFERING:
1. Limbik Theatre will further develop the project in partnership with project partners.
2. Limbik Theatre will manage and executive produce the tour.
3. Limbik Theatre will strive to raise further co-commission funds and partnerships with theatres for the tour helping towards the financial cashflow of the project.
4. Limbik Theatre will find ways to incorporate their touring program into bespoke education residencies in educational institutions, schools, communities.
For example, the University of Portsmouth will work with us to create an emergent technology interactive performance with undergraduates.
5. Limbik will brand the tour with investors
and sponsors and in agreement with the
6. Limbik will promote the products of partners through demonstrations and workshops as well as using any product
placements as part of the performance.
“We at Epic are excited about the use of Unreal Engine on this project and the new areas of use in live performance
that this represents. We have been happy to support the School of Creative Technologies so far, and look forward to
working with them as this goes into full production. We see great potential in collaborating on new tools that enhance
the performing arts and theatre.”
Ben Lumsden, Business Development
Manager, Epic Games
_ UNIVERSITY OF PORTSMOUTH ARE OFFERING:
1. Access to space for rehearsing and creating.
2. Reduced costs for technicians experienced in emergent technology.
3. Research support to help inform the development of this work in the cultural sector.
_ LIMBIK ARE LOOKING FOR
INVESTMENT AND SUPPORT WITH
1. Expansion and support with equipment or software endorsement.
2. Investment support as negotiated.
“IKinema are happy to support the University of Portsmouth and Limbik on this project and how the use of IKinema
Orion and Live Action are exploring potential new areas of use in the world of Theatre and Performance. We have been
happy to support the team in this early phase of the project and look forward to working with them once this goes in to
full production. This project will validate the use of affordable, quality live motion capture systems in the domain of Theatre
and Performance, opening up an exciting new area of development for creative people and technology companies
pushing the current capabilities further.”
Alexandre Pechev, Founder & CEO, Ikinema Ltd.
_ WHY BUILD A PARTNERSHIP?
• Offer a unique partnership and selling opportunity for all parties.
• Initiate a longer-term marketing strategy that can develop and broaden the reach of all parties.
• Create an innovative partnership:
pairing professional technology companies, universities, funding bodies with a theatre company can broaden
the innovative research and expand audiences in live theatre.
• This model has the potential to develop an exciting future for all parties.
_ PARTNERSHIPS ARE ESSENTIAL TO THE LONG-TERM EXISTENCE OF ARTS AND CHARITABLE ORGANISATIONS
•Funding streams for arts projects have been changing over the last five years and due to various Government initiatives, partnership- working and commercial corporate support
has become key to successful fundraising strategies and projects. Partnerships help build a more sustainable cultural sector.
Francis Runacres,Executive Director, Enterprise and Innovation at Arts Council England commissioned a study into Private investment in culture. The survey highlights
the importance of investment to help offer a quality arts experience to help sustain opportunities for all. He also highlights the importance for all parties to benefit.
‘Sponsorship, particularly corporate, is never just about giving, however charitable the gesture. Companies may
deny it, but they expect something in return and, indeed, it should be a two-way relationship, with benefits on both sides.’
_ DOWNLOAD THE FULL CREATIVE
AND BUSINESS PLAN HERE: