“Macbeth questions how an act can lead to a vital and circumstantial change so that nothing can ever be the same and that there is no going back: a clear parallel with the current situation”
Pep Gatell, President of Fundación Épica La Fura dels Baus
“La Maldición de La Corona” is a collective and remote experiment based on William Shakespeare’s classic Macbeth. The workshop began on April the 13th few weeks after the confinement by COVID-19.
The experiment has involved around thirty creatives who have worked at a certain distance through videoconferencing platforms, enabled and customized by the Epica team. The result, a pioneering work that transcends technological barriers and investigates the future of theater in times of digital revolutions.
With this experiment, Fundación Épica La Fura dels Baus inaugurates a new distributed work format, adapting to the new situation and striving to overcome the ravages that the virus is causing in the world of culture and entertainment. Following the usual way of working, the challenges faced during this project have not been few.
On the one hand, the challenge of creating in the current imposed confinement. Distance, virtuality, time zone changes and lack of resources are situations to which the different creatives distributed between Europe and America have been subjected to. The objective of the experiment, to create a collective work, has forced the participants to take advantage of their own environment and the creativity that has reinvigorated the reinvention of the domestic space into a space for creation.
On the other hand, the technological challenge set by the creative use of videoconferencing platforms not intended for the performance environment. These tools more typical of telework have naturally promoted in this project the evolution of art towards new forms and formats that hybridize digital art, performance, music, as well as other artistic techniques.
Finally, “La Maldición de la Corona” has revealed the birth of new audiences through the exploration of new artistic genres. The use of new massive and interactive broadcasting tools has given the opportunity to broaden the audience, with the possibility of creating an active community of audience that decides, contributes and participates. The continuation of new experiments of this type, will allow us to cross the physical borders of our creative space, and generate a more enriching debate around its results.
Three research groups have also joined the initiative: the UAB Department of Philosophy and the Brain Cognition and Plasticity Group of the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and the Computer Vision Center (CVC).
The first expert, the Department of Philosophy has centered their participation in the study of how a specific environment can affect the creative process, and how the latter is transformed. IDIBELL investigates the impact of the virtual environment on the cognitive system of both the audience and the group of participants and how the stereotype can change or decrease based on participation in this type of project. Finally, the Computer Vision Center, from the observation of the creative process, study and search for indicators, through computer vision technologies, natural language and machine learning, on the relationship processes that exist between beings human within a creative process, the analysis of leadership and communication processes.
During the project, work has been done on two levels.
On the one hand, Epica’s team has divided the participants, who had already been part of the latest project of the “Complex Systems”, into groups of 4-5 members. Each of the groups has been enabled a virtual video conference room from which to organize their work, and in most cases, has served as the stage of the creative process. The groups have been working taking into account the availability of their members and the Epica’s team has assisted them, adapting to their needs.
On the other hand, general meetings have been organized periodically with all the participants in which they had the opportunity to share their contributions, keeping in mind the objective of working on the transitions between events and facilitating collaboration and participation between them.
The experts and research groups have attended the general meetings in order to supervise the work done.
“La Maldición de la Corona” has inaugurated a new way of working in the Foundation, which has proved its ability to quickly adapt to unexpected situations. In this project, in which virtuality and distance have played a key role, there has been no limit to creativity, quite the contrary. It has allowed participants to explore new formats hybridizing all kinds of knowledge, from the most analog to the most digital, taking advantage of their own environment and in most cases, working with domestic technological materials.
The project has allowed us to reflect on other ways of interacting with the audience, opening the path to new formats in which the screen can be treated as another agent within the work.
The project ended with a live public broadcast of the results of the experiment: a work that hybridizes different audiovisual and interpretive techniques. The first virtual performance was held on April 28th, with an audience of more than 3,000 people.
Due to its extraordinary reception, the performance “La Maldición de la Corona” was broadcast again live on May 8th, with an audience of more than 1800 people.
For this second broadcast and in order to take research on the performative-digital environment further, the application developed at the Fundación Épica, Kalliópê, was used. To follow up on this second broadcast, the audience downloaded and installed this massive communication tool in their smartphones with which they received messages, music, videos, images and questionnaires in parallel during the broadcast. This tool brought a new relationship between the broadcast content and the public, generating an immersive and participatory experience through real-time multimedia content linked to the narrative of “La Maldición de la Corona”.
After both broadcasts, the participants in the experiment together with the Foundation team opened a debate about the results presented and the creative process. Through the live chat, the audience was able to participate by asking questions to the participants. Some of them dealt with the difficulties of creation in a digital and remote environment, the reflection of the new “domestic-performative” environment and the future of culture in the new normality.
In the second broadcast, Kalliópê sent different multimedia content and messages to allow the audience to have an active participation. The public had the opportunity to send their images with their own “crowns”, a mantra repeated throughout the different acts that composed “La Maldición de la Corona”. The objective: to form a large mosaic of “crowned” people.