An Unfinished Drama: Designing Participation for the Theatrical Dance Performance Parcival XX-XI

Gesa Friederichs–Bu ̈ttner, Benjamin Walther–Franks, Rainer Malaka, (2012). An Unfinished Drama: Designing Participation for the Theatrical Dance Performance Parcival XX-XI “DIS 2012, June 11-15, 2012, Newcastle, UK.Copyright 2012 ACM 978-1-4503-1210-3/12/06…$10.00.”


Interaction; Theater; Digital Media; Dance.

ACM Classification Keywords:

J.5. Arts and Humanities: Miscellaneous


The paper focuses on the use of digital media for plays in theatres and a set of requirements and four interactions are introduced to make audience interact in theatrical play actively with the use of gestural interfaces.

Main Contents:

By joining the disciplines of Art with technology, the plays can be showed more efficiently and meaningfully than before like the use of sounds, recorded videos, live projection to improve the scenery of the play and participation of audience in the act, all at the same time can blur the linearity of a play and bring new interaction challenges. The paper focuses on narrative performances of audience interactions with the play. After seven times play of “Parcival XX-XI” drama and 30 audience interviews of their interaction experiments, many of new challenges and interaction designs got introduced that the involvement of audience in the play is due to fun, frustration, fear and schadenfreude. At the same time four “interaction-enabling” principles that are required for audience’s in-play interaction, are introduced as audience interest in the play, interest in involvement of the play, performing interaction be valuable experience for him or her and last valuable experience be shared to all audience.

Parcival XX-XI is an artistic field research which audience, two media artists, one dramaturge, one choreographer, two light technicians, six dancers, other performers, have contributed and is performed seven times with many audiences ranging from 50 to 130. Play is done with very little stage design with video projection and Nintendo Wii-mote control used for interaction. The non-linear play has two scenarios in which audience are allowed to take part using the remote control to interact with virtual avatars on stage, mean time dancers also react according to audience actions, there is always “Wii fairy” to help audience for technical issues. If the Parcival XX-XI cannot show the dramatic composition image then it is failed and piece is remained un-finished, but luckily until now no play is remained un-finished.

The scenarios are unsolvable problems, like four audience stand in front of four other naked dancers and they are asked to dress or undress them only with three digital projected dresses by using two gestures (steal, hold) dancers wear, so as a result one of the dancer always remain naked. This is to let the audience to realize that there is no actual solution, therefor; individual solutions are required for problem solving and face the effect of their action on dancers and play.

Thirty audiences aged between 24 and 63 from which 20 men and 10 women were interviewed and each interview took 5 to 20 minutes and three main questions were asked. “Which aspects especially caught your eye? How did you perceive the use of digital media? How would you rate the usage of Wii-mote controllers?”.


A: Audience agreement or rejection of participation is due to Fear, fun, frustration schadenfreude.

B:The audience often experienced the participation as disruption of the play  because

1: Written language was used in participatory scenario.

2:  The scenarios occur at an inappropriate point of time of play.

3: Only two gestures for participators.

4: The scenarios required a shift from passive spectator to an active role on stage.

Based on the results four interaction-enabling criteria are introduced for theatrical plays, and these criteria are also applicable for theatrical performance that require interaction and employ gestural interaction. The criteria are to prevent the drama from an unfinished state.

1: The audience should be interested to get involved with the work.

2: An interested audience should be able to do the interaction.

3: Performing the interaction should be a valuable experience for the interacting person. :

4: The valuable experience should not only be reserved for the person interacting with it, but should be shared with everyone else around.

Getting one person involved in an interactive task is not an easy work, first because in many occasions the person may feel baffled, ashamed, insecure, unfamiliar and even afraid of technologies used.. Parcival XX-XI is introduced as a participatory play to the audience, so that they expect more and volunteer themselves to contribute in. second embarrassing situation for participants should be avoid by asking many participants at one time to come on the stage, third the play should make the audience realize that play is interactive and desirable, by projecting a text on stage or playing a sound, in this play Wii Fairy supported audience with the play.

Ability is the second requirement where the audience should be able to use the tools, since every person varies in age, profession and other characteristics, Nintendo Wiimote was chosen because that could transfer relevant message, the device were thought to audience before the play.

Participants should achieve valuable experience, they must see the reaction quick and correctly but due to some technical problems of Nentendo Wiimote and projection delay, this was somehow not understandable for them.

The play should not only be valuable experience for participants but also for viewers, any interaction made on stage play must have dramaturgical impact on the drama, therefor pre-performance was designed to ensure that participants understand the usage of controllers and effects they can make on a play.

Ideas for costume evaluation: ?

We should keep in mind about the technologies being used inside the costume that the performer should not feel fear, shy or embarrassed and at the same time it should respond to the perfumers expectation.