rediscovered Tudor play brought back to life by Sussex students and MTL…

History was remade last week when a rediscovered Elizabethan play was performed by Sussex students as part of Universities week.

'A Dialogue' set

The project for an event at the Natural History Museum for Universities Week is based on research by Prof Matthew Dimmock exploring how English men and women viewed the wider world in the 16th and 17th centuries. This was explored in a short play written over 400 years ago, and until now only ever performed once for Queen Elizabeth I.

Carly Brownbridge (Sussex Research) was the Producer and Production Designer of the event, which was realised as both pop-up live theatre and an online film.

“We had to carefully consider how we were going to represent this 400 year old farce for two very different audiences and in very different formats.”

'A Dialogue' set

Dr Phil Watten (Informatics) was the Director of the show and developed it for filming in the Media Technology Lab in Informatics. The filming was crewed by four Informatics students, with three actors from the Drama department performing the play.

'A Dialogue' set

“We were on a very tight schedule as filming and rehearsals had to fit around the exam timetable of all the students involved. We therefore designed it to be filmed and put online in just one day. We used a multicamera studio shoot and cut it as-live so there was minimal post production needed.”

A Dialogue - a view in the studio

Oana Stefanescu vision-mixing the show

The Media Technology Lab is built on a number of technologies created by people in Informatics, including image processing equipment, lighting software and other control systems.

And it is this mix of new technologies and English tradition that has created a really unique project. For example, the stone blocks, which feature on the rear wall of the set, were created by Informatics PhD student Marco Gilardi. Marco’s research is in image synthesis, and he designed a set of algorithms to generate the wall as it would have been when freshly constructed in the 1600’s.  The rest of the set featured more traditional elements, such as swathes of fabric to dress the room. These sorts of furnishings would have also featured in the original, temporary play setting in 1602.

MTL gallery

So, with ‘A Dialogue’ now captured on film, this lovely piece of historical narrative will not be lost again…

(images by Dr Phil Watten)

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