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To Be Today by Brendan Dawes

Created by Brendan Dawes with 0 Comments

Living in a World where so much seems  fragile, transient and throwaway, the words of Shakespeare – hundreds of years on from when he originally wrote them – still seem as relevant as it today as they every were. It was this thought, provoked by a phrase from a BBC Podcast that Shakespeare “is a mirror or our own predicament” that inspired me to make something that would attempt to put into a real-time context the famous and not so famous phrases from Shakespeares’ work.

When the RSC first got in touch with me I confessed that I’d never read any Shakespeare – my school back then was more Kes than Macbeth – but they liked the fact my only experience with The Bard was through pop-culture such as the many movies that have been made of his work. Over the next few months I spent all my time learning and reading about Shakespeare and why his work still permeates our culture on a daily basis.

Over time, having written about every emotion, every part of society from the cruelest to the most wonderful, I asked myself what if those Shakespearean phrases that we hear so much could be super-imposed on to the events of the day, giving modern context to Shakespeare and introducing new audiences to his words through the context of rolling news.

With that idea in mind I took it to the RSC who thankfully loved it, after which I set to work on writing the algorithm that would attempt to match Shakespeare quotes with subjects in the news on a half-hourly basis. Early signs were promising but my knowledge of Shakespeare was sadly lacking. Thankfully I then started to work with a young intern at the RSC who could offer real insight into the database that powered the system. The matches now started to really come together; here was Shakespeare describing events in real-time, showing the timeless nature of the words that he wrote and how even today, hundreds of years later, Shakespeare is as relevant today as it ever was.

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Matthew Sommerville

Quintessence of Dust by Matthew Somerville

Created by Matthew Somerville with 0 Comments

I have always been interested in the hustle and bustle of the theatre, such as everything that goes on literally behind the scenes in the weeks and months before in order to make the work of art that I see as a member of the audience on a particular night. It’s one of the reasons I set up Theatricalia – – to record details of as many productions as possible, letting people see the history of people, places, and productions as they each move through the theatre world.

With the advent of the World Shakespeare Festival, I thought it would be interesting to be able to see an overview of the productions involved in the Festival across the country. As I’m a web developer by profession, I naturally wanted this to be a website-based data visualisation – one that as well as an animation showing the overview, allowed people to interact with it and find out more information about the events covered.

From the Shipwreck Trilogy in Stratford-upon-Avon and London at the Roundhouse, Forests at the Birmingham Rep, or Y Storm (The Tempest) at the National Eisteddfod of Wales, my work provides a summary of the Festival productions and associated events.

Matthew Somerville is a web developer based in Birmingham, working for mySociety on sites such as FixMyStreet and TheyWorkForYou. After finding it hard to discover what other productions the brilliant actors of the RSC Histories Cycle had been in, he set up as an open, editable, repository of theatre productions. It currently contains almost 24,000 productions, dating back to the sixteenth century production of Julius Caesar at the Globe.”

Quintessence of Dust is one of three myShakespeare commissions from Caper.


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Spirits Melted Into Air by Tom Armitage

Created by Tom Armitage with 0 Comments

Spirits Melted Into Air is a project exploring actors’ movement on stage, created by Tom Armitage as a series of three commissions programmed by Caper and produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company. It takes individual scenes or speeches – in this case, two individual scenes from the 2012 Royal Shakespeare Company productions of Richard III and The Comedy of Errors – and produces data-visualisations of actors’ motion during them.

By stripping the text away from dramatic performance and removing the playwright, it highlights the work that the Royal Shakespeare Company does in bringing the written texts of Shakespeare’s plays to life.

Namely: the production aspects – the actor, director, motion coach, audience; everyone that influences a performance.

The work is in parts a technology prototype, data visualisation, and artwork. Custom-built, open-source software is used to analyse performance video and generate plots of actors’ positions on stage from a perspective viewpoint. These plots are then used to generate new, secondary artworks: posters, and laser-cut wooden shapes.

The posters illustrate only the traces of the actor upon stage; “footnotes” indicate salient lines in the text of the scene, anchoring the movement to Shakespeare’s original words.

The wooden shapes represent the shape of the actors’ footsteps for the whole scene, and are engraved with arrows indicating directions of motion, as well as recording the scene, actor, and date of performance.

More information, including video and photographs, is at

About Tom Armitage -

Tom Armitage is a technologist, writer and designer based in London.  He makes tools, toys, and art out of hardware, software, and the network. He has spoken on technology, design, and games at conferences around the world, and runs a popular weblog at .

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Alarum Project

Alarum by Natalia Buckley and Caper

Created by Natalia Buckley and Caper with 0 Comments

Alarum; and chambers go off.

Alarum is an ambient display that shows the changes in sound levels and motion around the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Whether a quiet moment between performances, the hustle and bustle of the wigs and wardrobe department in the run-up to curtain-up, or the hush of the auditorium as the house lights go down, the theatre has a pulse of its own. Specially built sensors placed at key locations around the site measure light, sound and motion, animating the display with every change they detect. What you see here is happening right now in the theatre.

By exploring the changes in sound and light around the site, we can measure the heartbeat of the building. And by displaying those changes live on the internet, we can connect people around the world with Shakespeare, his plays and the main theatre in the town of his birth, every minute of the day.

Follow the process of making Alarum through Natalia’s blog and Caper’s blog

Alarum was thought out by Caper and Natalia Buckley and the creative team are:

Caper ( is a creative agency, founded by Rachel Coldicutt and Katy Beale. We run innovation programmes and create digital campaigns for a range of clients, including cultural organisations, media companies and luxury brands.

Rachel was previously Head of Digital Media at the Royal Opera House, and Alarum, the first of our three commissions, built by Natalia Buckley, draws on her experience there: the frenetic churn of backstage activity in a large theatre is often completely hidden from the audience, while the peaks and troughs of front-of-house activity have a rhythm entirely of their own. A theatre without people is simply an empty space, and Alarum is an attempt to convey the movement of staff, actors and audiences in a meaningful way.

Kat Sommers

I’m a digital producer, writer and wrangler of content, with a background in am dram that has seen me carry many a spear. The closest I get to treading the boards nowadays is poking around the green room and wings of a famous theatre from the comfort of my own home, which, coincidentally, is exactly the kind of thing that got me into the internet in the first place.

Natalia Buckley

I’ve been called a technologist, designer, developer, maker, and even a data artist. It boils down to making things out of the internet. In fact was the first child in Poland to access the web (probably) and a first one not only to have their own website, but one they’ve made themselves (definitely). I mainly break things, but somehow always manage to fix them before anyone notices.

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Charlotte Elizabeth Webb

Infinite Violets by Charlotte Elizabeth Webb

Created by Charlotte Elizabeth Webb with 2 Comments

Infinite Violets is a computer generated artwork which creates many millions of variations of the following verse from Shakespeare’s King John:


Therefore, to be possess’d with double pomp,

To guard a title that was rich before,

To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,

To throw a perfume on the violet,

To smooth the ice, or add another hue

Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light

To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,

Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.

(King John, 1595)

In Shakespeare’s play, the verse is spoken by the Duke of Salisbury on the occasion of the King’s second coronation. Salisbury feels that to crown the King again is superfluous and unnecessary, and this feeling is reflected in the language of the verse, which denotes excessiveness and ostentation.

Taking up the idea of re-enacting or embellishing phenomena, Infinite Violets explores the possibilities for language to be exploded into new forms by an algorithmic process. The work creates a hyper-textual encounter in which new variations of the verse are sometimes funny, awkward or charming, their poetic nature belying their creation by a computer programme. It is also concerned with alternative forms of authorship, both in terms of the algorithmic creation of poetry, and the inclusion of images created by the Flickr community.

To make Infinite Violets, a database of all the synonyms for each word in the original verse was created. A computer programme was written which would randomly combine the synonyms to create, in human terms, an infinite number of variations of the original verse. To provide a visual element, another database was created – this time, consisting of images found on Flickr. To find the images, each synonym was used as a search term in Flickr, and an image selected from the returned results. Whenever a new textual variation of the verse is generated, the computer programme also generates a slideshow of the ‘corresponding’ images. The images slowly fade into one another, creating a dreamy backdrop for the verses. The images used are all licensed under Creative Commons licenses which allow for their re-use or modification. Whenever an image appears on screen, the name of the author and the license they used appears as a hyperlink on bottom right of the screen. This means that at any point the viewer can go to the original source of the image.

Special thanks go to Arthur Webb and Mark Jackson for technical support.

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Eye Shakespeare

Eye Shakespeare – A new smartphone app for Shakespeare

Created by Shakespeare Birthplace Trust with 4 Comments

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Crown color 04

The Systematic Crown Of Cleopatra by Alma Iraldy Vivas Terrones (Central Saint Martins)

Created by Alma Iraldy Vivas Terrones with 0 Comments

The process, intriguing, exiting, sophisticated and systematic brings Shakespeare into the 21st century.

The project generates from the idea of finding a system to re-code Shakespeare. I based my idea focusing on ‘The Complete Works of William Shakespeare’. l also used colour and 3D printing as my research material and my approaches. Shakespeare’s works are dived into four categories: Comedy, Tragedy, History and Poetry. View Project

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Talking Dots by Hanna Bischof (Central Saint Martins)

Created by Hanna Bischof with 1 Comment

Shakespeare is renowned for his understanding of the range and depth of human emotions. Like no other of his guild he thematises love, hate, desire, revenge and many other basic feelings, revealing the gloomy sides of the human race in a meticulous way.

This installation should give an insight into the emotional dramaturgy of three of his tragedies – Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet and King Lear. The plays are colour-coded in terms of positive, negative or neutral feelings of the respective characters, represented by 60.000 coloured dots. At one glance the emotional course of those stories can be felt. The aim of the project is to catch the observer’s attention by involving him into an intimate dialogue on a deep emotional level.

It’s designed to be presented in large scale format.

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Kate Brangan

Shakespeare by Chance by Kate Brangan (Central Saint Martins)

Created by Kate Brangan with 1 Comment

‘Shakespeare by chance’ is a generative design program which creates real time visual translations of Shakespeare quotes. Based on the most popular searches on Google Images at any one moment, for every word within the quotes submitted there is a corresponding Google image ranked first. This instant response allows for unique and undetermined results each time it is used, and is representative of the zeitgeist at that moment. Results are generated through public usage and are therefore representational of the current visuals that Shakespeare’s language competes with in the 21st Century. As the visual content is in the hands of the public it echoes the idea that Shakespeare now belongs to the public and with no control from the creator the work continues to adapt over time in its many variations and interpretations. View Project

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