A venue for collaboration

When Audience Labs was based at London’s Royal Opera House, we conducted a research and development project to explore what a future pop-up opera venue might look like.

The project involved working with opera creatives, venue specialists, acoustic engineers and postgraduate students. Together, we wanted to use technology to step outside the boundaries and barriers of a physical theatre, with the ultimate goal of enabling new audiences to experience opera in accessible and unexpected performance spaces.

The result was PILOT, a proof of concept ‘Platform for Immersive Lyric Opera Technology’. PILOT is a portable, physical space for creating new forms of immersive opera in tandem with audiences. As Tateo Nkajima (a director at our collaboration partner Arup) put it, PILOT defined “a new perspective on what could really be a useful and effective module, mobile venue”.

Before the pandemic, we made plans to trial PILOT over a three-year period. Of course, our plans were halted. But the questions that drove us to create PILOT remain in our thinking for this latest phase of Audience Labs’ latest phase. In particular:

— What does a venue that drives artistic experimentation between makers and audiences look like?

— What’s the minimum infrastructure required to create a venue-within-a-venue?

— How can shared spaces be used by artists, audiences and other communities?