Monday, October 17: Elizabeth Hunter

“Social Virtual Reality and the Reinvention of Local in Theatre”

Monday, October 17, 2022 1:30-2:30pm ET via Zoom

Professor Elizabeth Hunter in profile holding and looking at a skull. She wears virtual reality glasses.

Dr. Elizabeth Hunter examining the skull from Hamlet wearing a HoloLens augmented reality headset.

Hunter will present work from her current book project, which maps a new theoretical model of participatory spectatorship in immersive productions of famous stories. Her talk will examine the emergent performance context of social virtual reality (social VR) as the latest manifestation of the continuing disruption of theatre as axiomatically local. Against the backdrop of Double Eye Studio’s 2020 adaptation of the Pandora mythos, Finding Pandora X, this analysis centers on the ways in which social VR simultaneously expands and contracts theatre’s “localness,” a reconfiguration with pragmatic and theoretical implications for practice and scholarship in the twenty-first century.

Elizabeth Hunter is Assistant Professor in Drama and Director of the Fabula(b) Theatre + New Media Lab in the Performing Arts Department at Washington University in St. Louis. Her current book project, In the Story: Enactive Spectatorship from Theatron to Augmented Reality, maps a new critical model of audience participation in canonical dramas staged with immersive technologies ranging from replica early modern practices to spatial computing. As the Director of Fabula(b), she leads an interdisciplinary team of student researchers to create digital adaptations of canonical dramas and other famous stories as a mode of historiographic and dramaturgical analysis. The lab’s current project, Wretched Excess: The Untold Tales of Early MTV, is a geolocated mobile AR tour of sites relevant to the early years of the American cable TV channel, MTV. Hunter’s digital projects have been supported by multiple external and internal sources, including Microsoft, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in the Arts, and the Center for the Humanities, and her scholarship has been published in Text and Performance Quarterly, the International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital MediaTheatre Topics and the edited book Research Methods in the Digital Humanities.