David Berthold and colleagues – Digital Theatre Festival


David Berthold and colleagues


Digital Theatre Festival 

NIDA’s DTF is a collection of six new works created in the circumstances of COVID-19 and responding to the tone of the times. The works are developed online and delivered to online audiences. 

These works break open the conventional boundaries of story and performance. Audiences are invited into the narrative and can often shape it. Duration is sometimes fluid. The works are delivered on platforms including Zoom, Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and often several at once. They subvert familiar genres including horror, science fiction, farce and tragedy in ways that operate as playful metaphors for contemporary anxieties. They sometimes use the mechanisms of games. Some aspects of the experience play out for a week or more before the live event, while others continue into the next day. The environment of the online audience is sometimes controlled. 

These works are led by top professional artists working at the intersections of theatre, visual arts, digital expression and gaming. They are a mix of experienced and new voices. They lead teams of NIDA students working across the disciplines of acting, voice, writing, design, props and objects, sound, lighting, and stage and production management. 

These works make advantage out of adversity, and point to possible futures of how artists and audiences meet in the digital realm. They offer models how we might gather and engage in performative conversations that reap the best from past and present practices in the service of future modes of story sharing. 

DTF Artistic Lead, David Berthold. David Berthold is one of Australia’s most prominent theatre directors and cultural leaders. As a theatre director, he has directed for most of Australia’s major theatres companies, as well as internationally. As an Artistic Director, he has led transformational change at several significant arts organisations. He was Artistic Director of Brisbane Festival (2015-19), Artistic Directo, La Boite Theatre Company (2008-14), Artistic Director Griffin Theatre Company (2003-2006), Artistic Director Australian Theatre for Young People (1999-2003), and Associate Director Sydney Theatre Company (1994-99). He currently Executive Chair of Playwriting Australia and Director of the Centre for Creative Practices at NIDA. 

Director, Leticia Cáceras. Leticia has directed for most mainstage theatre companies in Australia and her work has toured nationally and internationally. Her productions have received Helpmanns, Green Rooms, Matildas, and Sydney Theatre Awards. She has developed and staged over twenty world premiere Australian plays. Co-founder of nationally-acclaimed RealTV. Her short films have been screened in festivals around Australia and have won awards overseas. Associate Director for Melbourne Theatre Company from 2013 to 2015, Artistic Director of Tantrum Youth Theatre from 2006 to 2008 and Associate Director for Queensland Theatre between 2003 and 2005. She is now artist in residence at a leading VR company. 

Director, Sean Stewart. A ground-breaking global figure in transmedia storytelling and the most experienced and influential writer of Alternate Reality Games in the world. Winner, Primetime Emmy for Best Original Online Programming. New York Times bestseller for many science fiction novels. Engaged on Spielberg’s A.I.: Artificial Intelligence to create a multi-platform complement to the movie, called The Beast. I Love Bees, commissioned by Microsoft, accompanied the release of the video game Halo 2. He was Creative Director at Xbox Entertainment Studios. He is now Creative Director of Magic Leap. Earlier this year, Sean worked on a project with the Royal Shakespeare Company and Google Creative Labs. Sean lives in Los Angeles. 

Director, Pierce Wilcox. Pierce is a writer, director and maker of theatre and opera. He is a directing graduate of NIDA. He’s well known for his libretti new Australian operas – including Notes From Underground, Fly Away Peter, and Oscar and Lucinda – or Sydney Chamber Opera, Victorian Opera and Opera Queensland. He wrote and directed an adaptation of the Russian Futurist opera Victory over the Sun for the Biennale of Sydney. Co-creative lead on PANACEA with Google’s Creative Lab. Artistic Director of Crack X, an annual festival that develops new performance works that sit outside the conventions of text-based theatre. 

Director, Katy Alexander. Katy has 20 years experience in the theatre, visual arts and screen industries. She’s trained with Robert Lepage and The Builders Association in New York, a company mixing new and old tools to extend the boundaries of 21st century theatre. Katy has a PhD in Integrated Media Performance and works the intersection of live performance and new media. She was Live Performance & Screen Director for Hecker for five years and was resident director at the California Institute of Arts. 

Director, Nigel Jamieson. Nigel is a leading international theatre and event director. His work includes the Sydney Olympic Opening Ceremony, the Closing Ceremony of 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games, the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, the opening events of the 2009 European City of Culture celebrations in Liverpool, and the Opening of the 2017 European Capital of Culture, Aarhus, Denmark. His theatre and opera work has toured the world. Nigel is the recipient of a Greater London Arts Award for contribution to London cultural life, an Australian Centenary medal for his contribution to Australian Culture and an Individual Sidney Myer Award. 

Director, Deborah Pollard. Deborah is a director, artist and academic. She has been Artistic Director of Salamanca Theatre Company and Urban Theatre Projects. Deborah’s performance, theatre and installation works have toured throughout Australia as well as internationally, including Manchester, Bristol and Toronto, Canada. She is the recipient of a Winston Churchill Memorial Fellowship, the Rex Cramphorn Scholarship, and an Australia Council New Media Arts Board Fellowship. She lectures in practice and theory at the University of Wollongong, where she recently completed her PhD. 

Tessa Rixon, Anthony Brumpton, Carly O’Neill – Creating Virtual Space for Undergraduate Production Artists: Reimagining theatre production pedagogy online in response to COVID-19


Tessa Rixon, Anthony Brumpton, Carly O’Neill

Queensland University of Technology

Creating Virtual Space for Undergraduate Production Artists: Reimagining theatre production pedagogy online in response to COVID-19 

This presentation will demonstrate how virtual theatre productions act as spaces of transformation within Production Arts pedagogy while strengthening students’ agency over creative processes. In face of the global COVID-19 pandemic, with the shutdown of the Australian entertainment industries and the wholesale shift to online modes of delivery within tertiary institutions, the training of undergraduate Production Artists is uniquely situated to adapt through experimentation with online processes. This presentation will explore the pedagogical approach adopted by Queensland University of Technology academics within the Technical Production degree to create virtual spaces for the training of Production Artists. The Production Arts refers to the industry of practitioners who apply specialised design, technical and management skills in the collaborative process of realising live performance, encompassing managers, technologists, designers, operators, and others working behind or beside the scenes to create theatre. 

This presentation will analyse the pedagogical model developed for QUT’s Technical Production degree to shift highly practical, studio-based pedagogy into the online space. Focusing specifically on the newly-created Virtual Theatre Production (VTP) Project – a collaborative project which transfers productions online and involves second and final-year students, seasoned industry professionals, directors and production managers – we will case-study a new approach to training Production Artists in this time of global transformation. The VTP Projects shift normal production processes into the virtual space using 3D modelling software, lighting visualization, vision content presentation, 3D costume render techniques, videoconferencing and live streaming. 

This study will demonstrate how our approach to Production Arts pedagogy grants greater agency to undergraduate students to reimagine their own creative, technical and management processes and products. We establish how these virtual spaces of transformation facilitate social engagement amongst the student cohort, supporting creative encounters in the face of this recent global pandemic.

Tessa Rixon (née Smallhorn) is a practitioner-researcher with a focus in digital scenography and interactive systems in live performance. As a Lecturer in Scenography in the School of Creative Practice with the Queensland University of Technology, Tessa lectures in performance design, computer-aided design and performance technologies. Tessa’s research promotes new modes of integrating established and emergent technologies such as motion capture, Augmented and Virtual Reality systems into live performance; exploring the symbiosis of interactive technology and embodied performance practice; and showcasing Australian performance design practice and histories.

Anthony Brumpton is a Lecturer in the School of Creative Practice at Queensland University of Technology. His professional practice and research investigates augmented aural realities (AAR) through the lens of Aural Scenography as an approach for inclusion, placemaking and environmental awareness. His teaching fields include technical production, sound design and intermedial theatre. Anthony has over 20 years professional experience in the fields of music, sound and technical production, having created hundreds of creative works across Australia and internationally. Anthony currently resides in Queensland, Australia on the land of the traditional owners the Gubbi Gubbi.

Carly O’Neill is the Lecturer in Stage Management within the Bachelor of Fine Arts (Technical Production) at QUT. She has 20 years’ experience as a professional freelance stage manager working across most live performance genres, with particular specialisations in classical and contemporary music, and ballet and contemporary dance. Carly was the Senior Stage Manager at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre from 2004 – 2013 and has extensive regional, national and international touring experience. Carly has been the lecturer in stage management at QUT since 2009 and is currently the Study Area Coordinator for the BFA (Technical Production) and continues to freelance as a stage manager and show-caller. Her research explores the career transition experiences of female stage managers in Australia.