Zoom, WhatsApp & Gather.Town - creating digital stages image

Thu 26 January

LNF23: Zoom, WhatsApp & – creating digital stages

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LIVE NOW FESTIVAL 2023: Zoom, WhatsApp & – creating digital stages


Webinar discussion and Q&A with audience

With Louise Mari and Jason Crouch, Ben Samuels and Gaël Le Cornec, Limbik Theatre and Leo Mercer, leo&hyde

With so many online platforms now available, how can some of the most utilised video and messaging systems become creative, digital stages for live performance? Focusing on LIVE NOW commissions Mystery Trip, All the Water in the World and seed commission 2461, our panel of artists and creative technologists will share their ideas and approaches to ‘hacking’ and transforming Zoom, WhatsApp and into creative spaces, and how the format and design of these platforms informed the creation of these three interactive, online experiences.


Full Festival Line-up


Louise Mari

Louise is co-founder of Shunt and the Shunt Lounge, and one half of performance duo Nigel & Louise with Nigel Barrett. Nigel & Louise are pioneering theatre mavericks, making wild, bold, visual performance for people who don’t really like theatre and unusual theatrical experiences for those who do.

Jason Crouch

Jason is an artist, events producer and digital consultant with a particular interest in live performance. In theatre he has worked as a producer and production manager for large scale, site-specific performance, and as both a technical specialist and playwright for more intimate work.

Jason recently completed his PhD at Manchester Metropolitan University, where his research investigated digitally mediated intimacy and how communications technologies can be thought of as one-to-one performance. He has spoken at Ars Electronica and contributed to a number of technology panels on the theme of arts and technology. He has collaborated with theatres and digital agencies (such as Contact in Manchester, and Culturehub in NYC) to create complex, multi-sited live events mediated through the Internet. He has designed and delivered participatory workshops, and has worked in live events – from corporate conferences to immersive theatre – for more than two decades.

Ben Samuels & Gaël Le Cornec, Limbik Theatre

Limbik makes new theatre and live experiences in physical and digital space. Where the epic becomes intimate. And vice versa. The company’s genre-defying work extends from visual storytelling and physical theatre, to interactive fiction and immersive audio, and celebrates ensemble, collaboration, and internationalism.

Leo Mercer, leo&hyde

Leo is a Mancunian writer and creative producer. After studying at the Universities of Manchester and Oxford, he founded music theatre company, leo&hyde. Leo works with composers and music producers to make drama out of current popular music, telling stories exploring post-internet life and the emotional and cultural impacts of new technology.

leo&hyde is a Manchester-based music theatre company, combining new sounds and new stories with new tech in pursuit of a new style of 21st century musical. Musicals to date include The Marriage of Kim K (Lowry Rewrites 2019) and GUY. The company create performances with technology at the heart:

· They tell stories about people living with technology.

· They integrate new tech into our stage shows.

· They create work directly for cutting edge new media.

So far, the company have created digital work using virtual reality, live motion capture, graphic animation, multi-media live-stream, and of course the infamous ‘lockdown’ style community video. They are currently exploring creating work integrating drones, augmented reality, AI / machine learning, gaming platforms, and much more.


Mystery Trip by Nigel Barrett & Louise Mari in collaboration with Kerry Underhill

We don’t know what we’re doing

We don’t know where we’re going

But we do know that we need to get out of here

Come with us

Mystery Trip is an epic digital excursion created by pioneering theatre mavericks Nigel Barrett & Louise Mari in collaboration with disability and welfare rights activist Kerry Underhill and a gang of people confined to their homes due to chronic health conditions.

Working with composers Jon Mcleod and Anna Clock, technologist Jason Crouch and video designer Andrew Crofts, the digital bus will offer you a unique live mystery trip – each one stopping at different surprise destinations. All from the comfort of your own home.

We will stop off at exciting places, meet amazing people, join in wild experiences, fight over the back seat, eat our sandwiches and inevitably leave someone behind at the petrol station. The wearing of dressing gowns is encouraged.

Mystery Trip – Nigel Barrett & Louise Mari (

All the Water in the World – a play on WhatsApp from Limbik Theatre

Giselle, alone in a room, listens to the sounds around her. They remind her of a home on the other side of the ocean.

She wants to share them with you. From her phone, she wants to reach out to you, a total stranger, somewhere far away.

All the Water in the World is a quirky, intimate, one-to-one performance that unfolds on WhatsApp. Using a combination of live calls, messaging, and 3D spatial audio, it’s an experience that invites you to listen and connect in a (perhaps) unusual way.

Written by Gaël Le Cornec and BJT Samuels

Performed by Gaël Le Cornec

3D Sound Design by Ben Samuels

Tech by Joe Strickland

Script Advisor: Nassim Soleimanpour

2461 – a LIVE NOW seed commission, developed as a collaboration between leo&hyde and Adam Lenson Productions

We’ve been exploring the idea of a “digital immersive musical”, where game design is set design, and Snapchat filters are costume design. To do this, we’ve been exploring the platform as a space for digital theatre. is a fun digital platform, which combines Zoom-like video calls with a graphical interface a bit like Among Us / Habbohotel. Our theory is that gamification makes digital theatre more engaging than Zoom theatre, where it’s harder for audiences to feel the same absorption that they might inside an actual real-life theatre.

Adam’s been digging deep into the design and tech possibilities of the platform, designing a spaceship modelled on The Lowry’s floorplans. Leo and Stephen have constructed a story set in the year 2461, and cooked up a soundworld for a set of characters trapped on a spaceship.