Manipulation is an exploration of autonomy, influence and control through the use of real-time motion-capture, wireless sensors, video game engine technology, electronic sound, and stereoscopic projection. The onstage performers manipulate physical objects and each other using a variety of techniques drawn from physical theatre, circus arts, dance and puppetry, to control the characters, objects, effects and music that are projected onto a screen that acts as a “window” into the virtual world.
Manipulation was presented as part of the 2016 Vancouver Fringe Festival, and consisted of three one-act plays, each developed by a different creative team.
The first, "A Perfect Web", was written by Wryly Andherson of Moth Orbit Object Theater, with the help of Viktor Barkar of the Vancouver Puppet Theatre, and used found objects and rejected materials to create a multi-layered performance in which the interaction between performers, between the physical puppets and between their digital counterparts each brought out a different aspect of this Aesop-like fable.
The second, "Cloud Opera", by Maria Lantin, with music by Kirsten Starcher, presented interactive word-play in a paper world based on Lisa Cinar's children's book "The Day It All Blew Away"
The third piece, by Cause & Effect Circus, used juggling props as the tools of the imagination of a group of young children, brought vividly to life on the screen behind them.
The Vancouver Observer said of Manipulation: "Each world was fun to drop into and explore—it’s a neat trick of virtual puppetry"
Plank Magazine described Manipulation this way: "Motion capture technology is used to translate the movement of the stage objects into an absorbing display of digital puppetry on screen... The sets, both stage and digital, were phenomenally integrated... The circus performance alone would have been enough of a show in and of itself, but with motion capture technology, this piece achieved something truly magical."
The Perfect Web
Wryly Andherson (Moth Orbit Object Theater)
Viktor Barkar (Vancouver Puppet Theatre)
Cause & Effect Circus
Digital Sets and Props
Noah van Buhren
Real-Time Digital Puppetry System
Motion Capture Technician
Hardware Design and Fabrication
Audio Technology and Engineering
Simon Lysander Overstall
Manipulation was made possible with in-kind support from Emily Carr University of Art & Design, and IKinema (http://www.ikinema.com), whose LiveAction software formed a key component of the digital puppetry system used in the show.