Improv sci-fi play Thirteen Cycles uses AR to create a different show each night

Thirteen Cycles

A team of artists are using improvisation and augmented reality to create a different science fiction play every night for 13 days. Thirteen Cycles is currently underway at the Rosemary Branch Theatre in London, with the final show taking place on November 29.

For each performance, creators Katy Schutte and Chris Mead create a full 'movie' on stage, with an improvised soundtrack created by Fred Deakin of electronic music duo Lemon Jelly. The play's set uses projection-mapped interactive visuals, ensuring a different look on stage every night.

Each performance is digitally recorded, with daily trailers featuring footage from the previous night's show. 

Unique experience

Thirteen Cycles can vary hugely - from subtle psychological dramas in the vein of Solaris to grand performances on the scale of Star Wars. 

"We’re really proud of this run," says Deakin. "Katy and Chris have a huge amount of experience creating engaging improvised theatre, and to create improvised soundtracks to their invented stories is great fun. We’ve worked really hard to uses virtual reality technology to create trigger zones, enabling the actors to create a live, immersive improvised set for each play.”

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In addition to his work with Lemon Jelly, Deakin formed web design studio Airside in 1998 and is now professor of digital arts at the University of the Arts London. He has also written a science fiction rock opera, The Last, scheduled for release later this year.

Schutte and Mead have many years' experience in improvisational theater, serving as co-artistic directors of The Maydays and The Nursery Theatre respectively. After the success of Thirteen Cycles, they plan to take the Thirteen Cycles format on an extensive tour in 2019.