Nick Cave joins RSC's hi-tech take on A Midsummer Night's Dream

Chris Wiegand
·2 min read

A groundbreaking interactive Shakespeare production that features motion-captured actors alongside their avatars will have an extra treat for audiences: the presence of Nick Cave.

The Australian musician has recorded the voice for a virtual forest in the new 50-minute online show, which is inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream and combines virtual reality and video game technology with live performance.

The production follows Puck (played by EM Williams) on a journey through the forest, encountering Shakespeare’s fairies Moth, Peaseblossom, Cobweb and Mustardseed, as well as fireflies who can be controlled by viewers. Seven actors perform the show live in a motion-capture space at Portsmouth Guildhall. There is a symphonic score based on recordings by the Philharmonia Orchestra, featuring contemporary orchestral works composed by Esa-Pekka Salonen and Jesper Nordin.

Dream is co-produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company in collaboration with Manchester international festival (MIF), Marshmallow Laser Feast and the Philharmonia Orchestra. Jane Beese, head of music at MIF, said: “Music is an integral part of the Dream experience and we’re thrilled that Nick Cave’s voice will sit alongside Jesper Nordin and Esa-Pekka Salonen’s living, dynamic score. With his mystical voice and dark vocal tones, Cave is the perfect person to represent the forest, helping audiences traverse the otherworldly land of Dream.”

In 2018, Cave collaborated with Marianne Faithfull on the song The Gypsy Faerie Queen, inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Cave’s latest album, Carnage, was recorded with Warren Ellis, with whom he created the soundtrack for an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, staged at the Lyric Hammersmith in London in 2006.

Dream has built on technology used in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2016 stage production of The Tempest, which starred Simon Russell Beale alongside an Ariel who was played by Mark Quartley, who was also rendered as a computer generated image.