The Harkat Virtual Interactive stage is a new format of performing online, harnessing the full potential of the internet combined with video technology and film aesthetics. The internet is its own stage. 

Theatre – as imagined for proscenium and even informal performance spaces – is a communal, and very physical experience, for both performers and the audience.

It belongs in the space which it was created for: The stage – not the internet. And the internet is a site for us. It is too, a stage. And performative works online need to be devised for this site. Anything here cannot be supplanted in the physical realm easily. Or at least, that’s the premise that we’ve set for ourselves.

A truly ‘for the internet’ platform, where we have retrofitted the Harkat physical space with state of the art capturing and streaming equipment, interactive tools and a technical team on standby. The Harkat Virtual Interactive Stage is a new form of art, a new medium if you will, to audiences and directors alike. It’s not theatre, it’s not film, it’s not a cheap mid-way and it’s not trying to be like anything else.

The audience can interact with the actors, choose what they want to see on stage, from where they want to see it and even decide the fate of the narrative. The director has full control of what is being streamed, making it a performative task.

It’s a new medium for audiences and makers alike and we’re taking it to the next level.

Supported by the Goethe-Institut/ Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai, the Harkat Virtual Interactive Stage will launch with 3 productions.

Scroll below for more details or click here to apply for the grant. 

THE STUDIO TECH

Easily control what gets shown with a broadcast quality live video switcher.

THE EXPERIENCE AS AUDIENCE

– interact with the performers
– shape the narrative
– choose what you see, from where you see it
– same show – a different experience. Every time!

THE EXPERIENCE AS CREATOR

– infinite (almost) number of camera angles
– your performers can be anywhere (where there is internet)
– live-edit / switch between camera angles/locations
– Performers don’t perform in front of a screen but in a real theatre on a real stage, directed in the studio.
– interact with your audience, involve them in the narrative
– add graphic overlays
– key green-screen
– all live and in real time
–> take your performance beyond the physical stage

Cinema cameras expandable to infinite (almost)

The live switcher allows the maker to film from multiple angles and switch between them with the help of our live editing system. It’s as simple as pushing a button. There are multiple possibilities which makers can play with to take their performance beyond just the physical stage.

Our live broadcasting system uses three Sony A7 III’s, along with the possibility of additional cameras like GoPros, phone cameras, virtual webcams or others that can be used creatively within the performance. You can also pull in streams from anywhere in the world into the studio. You can switch between a stream from somewhere else and the performance on the physical stage in front of you by the click of a button – instantly.

Style the video, overlay another video, put custom graphics

We can use pre-made graphics and overlays for branding and/or as part of the performances. You can overlay one video on top of another, have many smaller frames playing next to each other and go back to your ‘normal’ camera angle – all live.

Transport the audience to a location that doesn’t exist – Key Green Screen Live

We can use green screens in your performances to bring your performers out of the studio and to wherever they need to be – the jungle, the mountains, space – removing restrictions to the setting of your scene. But we’d love you to also use props of course – it’s still a stage after all!

Hear like in a cinema

Our studio sound coupled with broadcast quality lav mics for performers and with live post controls, allow you to stream mixed sound with your stream. As with everything else, the control for where and how lies in your hands.

A show for keeps 

Your show, with all its flourish and sound and video can be kept for archival purposes at the source. No, we won’t give you a cheap internet stream recording. You could possibly put it straight on Netflix.

 

The PLAYER

We’ve run over the basics of capturing the show in all its amazing quality. Here is where the interactivity takes place.

The digital player, constructed by our tech team, contains a streaming player and an interactive playbar, along with a creator’s dashboard where the various features can be moderated by the performance makers (live).

The Live Chat

To facilitate easy interaction between the audience and the performers, our player contains a live chat where participants can send in their comments, thoughts and questions and talk to each other. This chat can be turned on and off through the dashboard as and when convenient for the performance. This feature allows constant communication with audiences and an opportunity for interactive elements within your narrative.

The Audio Feedback Button

The Audio Feedback button enables the audience to respond using a button through which a sound plays in the studio speakers live for your actors to hear.

(Also, keeping internet trolls in mind, this button can be muted and unmuted from the creator’s dashboard.)

The Video Feedback Button

Similar to the Audio Feedback Button, the Video Feedback Button plays a small video every time it is clicked.

The Dashboard

The creator’s dashboard allows the makers to control various features of the playbar. 

The Toggle Switch

You can record viewer responses with the Toggle Switch, that varies between two responses. This is essentially a polling/voting system through which performers can interact with viewers.

 

Additional Buttons

Apart from the already existing features on the playbar, performance makers can get in conversation with the Harkat Tech Team if they have any additional features that they would like to build and experiment with. We can modify buttons, make more of the same and custom build them based on the performance.

  • ABOUT THE GRANT
  • To kick it off with a bang, we will be commissioning 3 productions. Each production will receive:
  • – A grant of Rs. 75,000
  • – free rehearsal space and access to live show equipment setup at Harkat
  • – tech support throughout, publicity design + marketing
  • – a guaranteed premiere
  • We *ONLY* accept proposals which are made for the “Virtual Interactive Stage” (= if it’s made for a theatre stage, it’s not meant for this. If it’s made only for online streaming, it won’t work, either)

These performances can be in any stage of development – idea, story outline, draft script or a finished performance. They can be of any duration and in any language. 

HOW TO APPLY

If you have something to propose, fill in THIS form before MIDNIGHT on the 29th of November 2020.

The Live Interactive stage has been made possible with the support of the Goethe-Institut/ Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: The Harkat Virtual Interactive Stage is something no one has ever worked on and with before, so we hope to become a platform where not only seasoned creators get to experiment but where new talent can present itself on a blank slate which has not been tarnished by hierarchies, unsaid etiquettes and a glass ceiling. We are looking to create content throughout the year 2021 as well, so don’t shy away from sending seeds of ideas. The only mandate is that they are incorporating the technical, interactive possibilities of the “Virtual Interactive Stage” heavily.