All spheres of culture were fundamentally affected by the pandemic, but perhaps none more so than that of live performance. The sudden inability to congregate in a shared space seemed like a potential death knell for the theatre industry. But could it also represent an opportunity to reinvigorate a staid and snobbish orthodoxy of tradition and elitism, and simultaneously reimagine what an audience can be, and how it interacts with live performance? As theatre was facing an existential crisis, online gaming boomed as players from around the globe sought opportunities to connect in the virtual world. No game attracted more commercial success or controversy than Grand Theft Auto, the symbolic behemoth of 21st century capitalism. “We are such stuff as dreams are made on” is an attempt to appropriate this totem of violence and consumerism and reimagine it as a meditative space for live performance. Can you approach other players in this digital realm, who are normally incentivised to shoot, explode, annihilate, and make them stop and listen to poetic renderings of existentialist metaphysics? Can the veneer of violence be cracked, and if so, is there a glimmer of humanity within?

Sam Crane (UK)
Sam is an actor known for his critically acclaimed performances at the National Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, in The West End and on Broadway. In the guise of his alter ego Rustic Mascara, he experiments with live performance inside open world video games.