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Cirque du Soleil & FCAD’s FOL!E green light four innovative projects

June 10, 2019


In April, Cirque du Soleil through its innovation lab, Nextasy, and FCAD, came together to launch The Future of Live Entertainment Lab (FOL!E), dedicated to innovation research in the live entertainment industry. This powerful initiative combines FCAD’s leadership in the global creative industries, with Cirque du Soleil’s expertise as a live entertainment global leader, to create a laboratory that focuses on using technology to enhance human performances, developing methodologies for live audience analytics, and generating deep insights into social and economic paradigms shaping the industry.

From new ways of integrating technology into human performance, to developing methodologies for sophisticated live audience analytics, to generating deep insights into social and economic paradigms shaping live entertainment, FOLiE will undertake multifaceted explorations and experimentations of fundamental questions for performance-based creative experiences. FOL!E’s first round of research proposals demonstrate the interdisciplinarity and innovative thinking needed to push the boundaries of the future of live entertainment. The projects supported by the world’s largest theatrical producer include robotics & performance, using sensor tech to create interactive experiences for audiences, and exploring new forms of engagement and conversation through journalism:

Robotic Controlled Apparatuses: Jonathon Anderson (Interior Design) & Michael Bergmann (Performance)

The proposed project will survey apparatuses used by Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group and reimagine their applications by re-engineering them as custom end of arm tooling for a Kuka robot. Apparatuses may include the Chinese pole, tightrope, footholds, platforms, projection mapping equipment, and integrated lighting solutions. The goal is to start with a few primary end of arm apparatus designs and see how the interactions between the apparatus and the performer are furthered by the introduction of a six-axis industrial robot arm. Long term, this project will look at creating novel end of arm tooling that expands current performances.

Scaffolding a live journalism concept: Sonya Fatah (Journalism)

This project is concerned with addressing some of the concerns attached to the form: striking the right balance between journalism and performance. In partnership with an award-winning, arts and performance company, the Future of Live Entertainment lab and a graduate student, this project seeks to engage with the editorial and production processes at Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, understanding current performance processes and finding new ways to develop those processes for a journalism performance. In a time of disruption, when journalism’s traditional revenue model is fast disappearing, this project looks to provide a new form of engagement and conversation, while also rebuilding trust between journalists and their audience.

Stories Incarnate: Using Body-Tracking/Body-Sensing Technologies to Create Interactive Narrative Experiences for Audiences: Ali Mazalek (RTA) and Richard Lachman (RTA)

This project seeks to address two challenges in live performance: 1) how to engage the bodies of the audience members in a way that interacts meaningfully with the performance, and 2) how to create an interactive performance that changes based on the choices that the audience makes. In addressing these challenges, this project seeks to develop a proof-of-concept prototype that makes use of technologies such as computer vision, wearables, and ambient and/or parallel reality displays.

Physically based at the Catalyst, FCAD’s interdisciplinary research hub, FOLiE brings together faculty and students from a wide range of programs. Likewise, researchers have the opportunity to access Cirque du Soleil’s expertise, facilities and audience insights from Montreal and beyond.