Tele-Immersive Improv

The use of video conferencing tools by remote performers to rehearse and create live theatre has become ubiquitous in 2020 due to global restrictions on social interactions. No studies, however have heretofore examined how remote video-collaboration affects performance. This paper presents the findings of a field study with 16 domain experts over six weeks investigating how tele-immersion affects the rehearsal and performance of improvisational theatre. To conduct the study, an original media server was developed for co-locating remote performers into shared virtual 3-D environments which were accessed through popular video conferencing software. The results of this qualitative study indicate that tele-immersive environments uniquely provide performers with a significant sense of co- presence, feelings of embodiment, and an increased ability to enter the social-flow states required for improvisational theatre. Based on our observations, we put forward design recommendations for video collaboration tools tailored to the unique demands of the theatre.

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