NETWORKED THEATRE: USING THE INTERNET AND DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY TO SHAPE GLOBAL ONLINE COLLABORATIVE LEARNING IN EDUCATIONAL DRAMA AND APPLIED THEATRE CONTEXTS

P. Sutton, M. Allsup

C and T (UNITED KINGDOM)
C&T are a highly acclaimed Theatre Company mixing drama, learning and digital technologies. C&T have created a new software solution for use in theatre, arts and cultural learning contexts called Prospero.

Prospero enables the building of online interactive dramas. It is a Browser extension that curates the web into interactive fictions, populated with characters, dilemmas, conflicts and challenges designed to provoke ‘players’ into taking part in these digitally enabled dramas by creating drama and sharing this digitally. It can also co-ordinate collaborations between participants and players across remote locations, using the power of the internet to build global collaborations between children, young people and often marginalised communities. Whilst Prospero works through the web browser, it can also control smartphones, tablets, games consoles - even drones. It is ideally designed for use in educational contexts, but equally can be used by anyone who wants to build online participatory theatre experiences.

Prospero has been created by C&T, based in Worcester, UK, but working internationally, C&T has developed a distinctive model of practice known as Networked Theatre. The company leads a global network of schools, colleges, universities, artists and community groups who use C&T’s interactive drama to collaborate, share and learn online. These dramas can embrace curriculum-based projects or social justice issues and learning. The C&T network currently includes partners across the UK and in Germany, Austria, Poland, USA, Kenya, Ireland, Japan and beyond. C&T is a National Portfolio Organisation of Arts Council England.

This session will outline the structure, tools and functionality of Prospero and demonstrate its uses across the curriculum and in arts education. The workshop will begin with a brief introduction to C&T’s work and the role of Prospero within this practice. The session will then proceed to a demonstration of Prospero, with participants using laptops, smartphones and tablet computers – all controlled by Prospero – to navigate and experiences one of the system’s Interactive Dramas. It will include how Prospero uses a range of digital devices to augment and extend this practice, manipulating and shaping media that can be exchanged through Prospero with other remote participant groups.

The session will include a number of brief illustrative case studies of Prospero in action through C&T’s work, illustrating its diverse uses and potential.

The workshop will conclude with questions from participants.