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Hamlet on SL Production Blog

Posted in fundraiser, Twelfth Night ...

Pillar #1: Ransom for the SL Shakespeare Company & SL Globe Theatre

July 15th, 2008 by lora

pillar 1 512x512 copy copy

Pillar #1: Ransom for the SL Shakespeare Company & SL Globe Theatre

Shakespeare, Second Life: The SL Shakespeare Company last month announced its Fourteen Pillars Fundraising Campaign, whose goal is to fill up all fourteen pillars to raise L$14 million, L$1 million per pillar. On Friday, July 18, to kick start the closing weekend of its month-long Twelfth Night staged reading series, the troupe plans to hold a “Twelfth Night MegaFundundraiser” in attempt to fill up the first pillar.

At 1 pm on Friday the 18th, seven actors will be jailed for their acting crimes by “an evil director,” likely Enniv Zarf, producer and director of the Twelfth Night staged reading series. Each actor’s bail will be set to L$100,000. Their goal is to woo the audience with only improv acting and their wits. Enniv Zarf explains, “The practical point is to get all of them out by 7 PM so that we can give the encore performance at our previously scheduled time.”

For the remaining L$300,000, the Company also plans to turn the SL Globe Theatre into a true black box theatre—“black, black, and nothing else”—in the historic first ransom of a virtual building.

Ina Centaur, artistic director and executive producer, comments, “We are truly what we say we are—a group of thespians and other professionals dedicated to our craft, bound together by Shakespeare, and way-too-excited to wait for outside funding before beginning something truly spectacular within the virtual world of Second Life. Furthermore, beyond the fact that we are trying to be Shakespeare’s analogue in live virtual theatre (the man was the foundation of modern theatre; we aim to establish the foundation of virtual theatre), we are also trying to create good within and for the audience of a virtual world that has more often been associated with the bad. In turn, though the money would be raised to create the good within, we believe this good will flow out of Second Life through the positive impact of the experience we create.”

Centaur has also been involved with numerous fundraisers based in Second Life, most notably her recent notable contributions in the Second Life Relay for Life campaigns. Despite her success she holds uncertainty in this upcoming fundraiser, “While my RFL teams together have raised over L$3 million through passive efforts and huge bursts through short-term events, we had the relatively easy job of campaigning for an existing and well-established charity for a direct health-related cause. Albeit The SL Shakespeare Company is known to be a source of good in Second Life, the concept of campaigning for major funding for a good within Second Life may be too revolutionary for others to get. We’ve got some tough mileage ahead, both with the technology and production mechanics, and also with convincing people of our ideas… We’ll just have to see what happens.”

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Posted in fundraiser ...

Fourteen Pillars Fundraising Campaign

July 1st, 2008 by ina

Shakespeare, Second Life: In June 2008, the SL Shakespeare Company (SLSC) announced the “Fourteen Pillars Fundraising Campaign” to help raise capital for its highly anticipated full-length full-ensemble production of Hamlet and other Shakespearean works. The goal is to raise L$14 million to fill up all 14 currently-empty pillars of the Campaign.

In a backstage private presentation given to VIP and members of the 1300+ member SL Shakespeare Company group on Second Life, executive producer and artistic director Ina Centaur gave a brief recounting of the various Globe Theatres she had built on Second Life and other virtual realities, and also the Second Life land problems the Company had to face, which ultimately forced her to invest in purchasing four island simulators for the Theatre. She then explained the Company’s goals and revealed its financial status, “We’re not funded by any external agency other than our own passion for the endeavor—and that’s really also internal… And it is so rare to see that in a humanities project, but we have it! We’ve already done what other projects with hundreds of thousands of real US dollars could not do. But, to maintain it for any longer, we will need your help…”

The problem arose in April from the Company’s all-too-sensational, but all-too-sudden miniproduction of Hamlet: The Mousetrap, which featured a cast of a baker’s dozen live actors and introduced the faces of the play’s main characters, including Hamlet, Ophelia, Claudius, Polonius and Gertrude. Centaur explained the miniproduction’s major problem, “We tried our best to work the schedule based on the actor’s availabilities; but having Second Life as a second or third or fourth or lower priority simply won’t do for a full-ensemble full-length production.” Managing director Sabina Stenvaag stated, “Scheduling was chaos, and we’ve even had to deal with some last minute re-casting before a show opened.” Co-executive producer and director Enniv Zarf agreed that, “The only way a full-length full-everything production would work is if we had everyone taking Second Life seriously, take their roles as a full time first life job for a month.”

“We are going to continue no matter what. We do want to explore all the different possibilities in theatre productions. Doing staged readings is an integral part of any production company who are experimental and innovative. Although Shakespeare isn’t necessarily new, but producing Shakespeare in Second Life proposes many problems to overcome and this Twelfth Night Staged Reading Series has taught us many things about the nature of live theatre in SL. It is absolutely a necessary and welcomed part of the process, and also a great way to keep going for the summer until we get back into the full swing of things in the fall,” said Enniv Zarf.

Ina Centaur explained, “Outside institutes and funding agencies do not seem to understand what we’re doing, and that perhaps explains for their reluctance in funding. We’re new and we’ve got a sprakling new idea. For the past eleven months, I have been spending a huge chunk of my time in both finding and fostering the SLSC. The theatre prides itself in its professional productions and large-scale venue—but those come at a cost. Practically everything I have done on Second Life is in attempt to break even and make the theatre self-sufficient within Second Life.”

The Campaign’s characteristic donation kiosk is a self-updating posterboard, which visually represents the fourteen empty pillars as printed woodcuts on aged parchment. As the funds accumulate, the pillars will appear “filled.” Currently, two kiosks are placed in the SL Globe Theatre. They will soon be dispersed on the walls of upcoming builds in the Shakespeare island simulator as “Elizabethan graffiti”.

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Posted in Twelfth Night ...

Twelfth Night Staged Reading Series

June 16th, 2008 by ina

Of shipwrecked twins separated in a foreign land, love triangles mixed with identity confusion, and girl masquerading as guy falling in love with her noble… The SL Shakespeare Company takes a brief hiatus from Hamlet to pursue a full length performance of Twelfth Night-broken down into “bite-size” chunks in a series of full-costume staged readings. The production will be performed by a moving cast, and audience members from the last week who wish to enlist would have the possible chance to make the cast.

According to director Enniv Zarf, “This production is an experimental way of performing Shakespeare. But hey we are in Second Life. If we can’t try it here, where else could we possibly try this.” Ina Centaur, Artistic Director, tells of the visual differences in this production, “The SL Shakespeare Company is known for our unlimited extravagance in visual adornments and animations. Because it is a staged reading, the overall look of this particular production will be distinctly different. The outfits will be grayscale to emphasize that this is a staged reading, and because we have a possible shifting cast with the same person playing multiple characters on the staged reading stage, we may use scripted changing sculpted masks.”

The performances are from June 20 to July 20, an Act a week, every Fridays at 7 PM, Saturdays at 11 Am, and Sundays as 3 PM.

The SL Shakespeare Company is the premier professional Shakespeare performance troupe in the virtual world of Second Life. The Company performs in a meticulously accurate replica of the Globe Theatre ( ). Since 2007, it has continued to provide immersive live Shakespearean theatre accessible to anyone anywhere in the world with a high speed Internet connection.

For more details on this and other SL Shakespeare Company productions, please visit

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Posted in 3-2, Act 3, Playbills, miniproduction, live-single-scenes ...

SL Shakespeare Company’s Miniseason #2

April 30th, 2008 by ina

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Posted in Act 3, 3-2, Playbills, miniproduction, preview, live-single-scenes, Uncategorized ...

Special Preview on Bard’s Birthday

April 23rd, 2008 by ina

MP2 Special Performance

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Posted in 3-2, Act 3, miniproduction, live-single-scenes, directors-notes ...

Act 3, Scene 2 Script… Final?

April 20th, 2008 by ina

The latest revised version of the script is here:

Blocking diagram summary: slsc act3 scene 2 blocking diagram

Major changes summary:

1. Polonius clicks to close curtains after leaving balcony view in
“Bid the players make haste”
2a. Prologue (or first player — if sound switch is done) enters and
clicks to make invisible the player’s imprompt shed during the “Danish
2b. Lucianus appears *before* his speech entrance. Just passing from
opposite stage doors.
3. Ophelia actually sits on stage level
4. Horatio sits with musicians and enters with them too. He should
visibly point his head up at Claudius at appropriate times - see
script. The musicians are on the stage all the time after entering.
5. There’s a single chair near where Hamlet stands — but he never
actually sits on it. He gestures to Ophelia to sit on it, and, on one
level, the banter about him sitting on her or otherwise is about the
single chair.

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Posted in auditions ...

Inworld and Email Auditions!

March 24th, 2008 by ina

View the inworld group notice for audition info or click here

Email us your voice file in mp3 format to audition at

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Posted in Act 3, miniproduction, live-single-scenes, preproduction, directors-notes ...

MP2 Script - SLSC Presents The Mousetrap

March 24th, 2008 by ina  Totally revamped and updated. No holo actors - everyone’s in full Elizabethan (or prior) outfit!

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Posted in live-single-scenes, miniproduction, directors-notes, globe, 1-1, Act 1 ...

POV of a Virtual Theatre Director

March 10th, 2008 by ina

Live theatre is — by nature — temporal. Although it’s guided by the playscript, as implemented in the director’s vision, what goes on during showtime is quite often spontaneous, and in some cases filled with so many surprises of serendipity or misfortune that nothing appears like anything the director had in mind. But, the magic of it all is that even if the theatre burns down or if a backdrop collapses on an actor’s back… everything always ends up “right”… from one POV at least!

Virtual theatre in a MMOG is all that — and more. You have the advantage of a potentially infinite and globally unrestricted theatre, but technical issues on serverside, clientside, and yourside make the combination something of a blender jumble.

In a virtual theatre set in a platform like Second Life — which, because of its general nature and free-range customization appeal, suffers from significant performance issues when more than two dozen avatars are in the same locality — issues such as sim crashes, viewer crashes, ruthing (when an avatar’s appearance reverts to the default avatar), attachments being misplaced, textures not loading, prims not loading, local lighting being too local, collisions going berserk, and lag… often occur!

Although my test system should be more than sufficient to view Second Life, the actors all appear horribly ruthed for every single performance (even the ones where we didn’t pack the house). I can only imagine that the audience might end up suffering a different or worse POV due to system differences — but, then again, our strategy thus far has been to keep publicity inworld… such that those who visit are well aware of the quirks of Second Life, and would understand that it’s the platform collapsing as we all attempt to gather there at one point.

In a Second Life theatre set in the intersection of four-sims (currently, that is the only way to hold a large event on one location, as each sim is limited to 100 avatars), there are also problems with simcrossings. For a round theatre like the Globe, audience members may get “eaten by prims” as they cross sim borders, due to physics oddity. This bug should really *not* be an issue, as a virtual world whose “safe lands” to walk on spans only 256×256m2 … is a small world indeed! (Please vote here.)

The SL Globe Theatre is set on the intersection of sLiterary, Primtings, Skin City, and Shakespeare, and is home to the SL Shakespeare Company. It has an entire sim dedicated to the stage (and VIP audience members), and thus has an audience capacity of up to 300, supporting up to 400 local avatars.

Now, when a sim crashes, it basically looks like 1/4 of the Globe is gone. And it’s not always obvious that that’s what happened. You’d think it’s because your viewer spontaneously derezzed the view further than a certain viewdistance, but when you see ocean instead of land — the vast emptiness of an area once teeming with green map dots on the minimap makes it evident that the region has crashed.

Time is an interesting complication to get straight and universal for a medium accessible to an international audience. Daylight Savings Time, especially, becomes confusing when different regions of the world observe it differently or not at all! We had scheduled 10 runs starting on “SLSC Thursday,” but skipped Wednesday (assuming it might be downtime Wednesday), but I’d forgotten that the 10th and closing show occurred on DST… until the day of the show.

Second Life Time is actually PST or PDT, when DST is observed. But, those across the pond apparently don’t observe DST until more than two weeks after California switches over. Interestingly, we had a crowd arrive at both the 3 PM PDT and the 3 PM PST. We thus ended up doing an “encore finale” at 4 PM PDT (the old 3 PM PST), where we had the voice director do a speaking cameo for Francisco, after spontaneously upgrading the old Francisco to Horatio (who could not make it to the 4 PM). We also had a missing Francisco for the 3 PM, and had the Ghost voice out the role of a visual truant Francisco.

Chaos? No, but there does exist method in the madness… The only sane way to accept it all is to keep an open mind — and to take it all… passively, as accepting of everything as you can.

And, of course, we didn’t get to sign a restrictive license from DPS where we aren’t allowed to deviate from script. The advantage of performing a play written by a guy who’s so set for posterity there are (literally!) busts of him ubiquitous… and especially when we’re not certain if the plays we have are accurate per se, and when we’re pretty sure his players improv’ed their way through… is that when all else fails… the play is free to become truly live… temporal and spontaneous as the spoken word.

In closing, I’d like to address the cynics who believe that this endeavor is in vain, both because of platform and nature of the medium. While I’m well aware that there are plenty of greenscreening technologies that interface, in real time, real actors with virtual sets, the beauty of having a theatre in a virtual world is that… the theatre is actually *in* a world. I think that distinguishes a play from something seen on a 2d screen — you can see it at various angles if you tilt your head a bit… or a much wider angle if you become restless and start pacing through the seats. And, when it’s over, you can continue to “live” in the virtual world knowing that you’ve just attended a major Shakespearean production… perhaps with your virtual family or with friends separated by great spans of space and time. Although you’d view it using a technological interface (and, perhaps, with your view limited by this interface), it’s immersive, and you’re a part of it.

(Cross posted at Ina Centaur Blog)

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Posted in Uncategorized ...

Tuesday’s Show

March 5th, 2008 by kayden

Hey everyone.  Tuesday’s show was definitely an adventure.  The bells tolled, I started to move, and my virtual world crashed around me.  All the world may be a stage, but this player was unable to see it.  After cursing (in very good iambic pentameter, by the way), I found it difficult to get back quickly, with the somewhat capricious gods of second life bent on delaying my return.  You all covered like veterans, and I ruthed my way back.  All my carefully loaded gestures were again hidden in my inventory, but I did manage to pull up the generic speech gestures and carried on.  Then I managed to shoot my way across the stage, taking front and center like an irritating overzealous understudy.  I did click the bench but found my avie sitting in Joff’s spot.  Finding the right spot was a challenge, with my flowing robes chunking across the bench.  Once I found the bench, I vowed to stay there, deciding that caution will always trump valor in this somewhat precarious virtual world.  After that, all I needed do was speak the speech, which was a relief.

This been a truly remarkable experience, and the opportunity to work with all of you talented people has been incredible.  We are truly pioneers in this art form, and the challenges that confront us are manageable.  Mostly.  My biggest concern now is that the distractions like movement, lag, gestures and the inherent fragility of the network that connects us — all of this keeps us from concentrating on the words.  I know, in many cases, I’m just saying the words — while trying to find the right keystroke, fumbling with the mouse, watching my avie walk into pillars, and remembering to talk four words into the last speech.

Yet, I would do this again.  And again.  It is a brave new world. 


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