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A team of international artists pioneered the world’s first interactive play on 1 April 2005 – virtually linking up actors in Salford with audiences in Rhode Island, America.

Video conferencing and advanced electronic art called ‘blue screen’ created a simultaneous space in which the English and Americans literally ‘held hands’ across the ocean.

The drama, entitled ‘Unheimlich’ (a Freudian term meaning familiar yet strange) used similar technology to that used by weather forecasters to create theatrical backgrounds including cliff-hanging images and a traditional sitting room.

Spanning a five-hour time zone, audiences at Brown University, Providence, where invited to step into the virtual world of two actors at the University of Salford and take part in improvisation.

Creative Technology Researcher at Salford, Paul Sermon, commented: “This is groundbreaking work. For the first time ever, audiences at Rhode Island will be invited to step onto a carpet and meet and talk to two actors here in Salford.

“Once there, they wheree visually merged with the actors on screen in Salford and Rhode Island. They can talk to them and dance with them – visually, it will appear as if they’re in the same room.”

The sequence of events was a closely guarded secret and was controlled by a technical team at the University of Salford - even the actors could not prepare for the drama.

Paul added: “This is the first time that a play has been performed from remote locations. It will be both interactive and mysterious and we’re very excited about the possibilities.”

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Manchester Metropolitan University Brunel University Salford University Arts Council England