RSC's Tempest to have CGI Ariel on stage for first time

Mark Quartley wears a motion capture suit on stage Image copyright RSC

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) latest production of The Tempest will feature a CGI version of the character Ariel for the first time.

Actor Mark Quartley will wear a motion caption suit on stage and the movements of his Ariel will be projected on and around the stage.

Technology will enable the CGI Ariel to fly and morph into different versions of the spirit.

Simon Russell Beale will play Prospero in the play which opens in November.

It will mark the first time he has appeared in an RSC play for 23 years.

The company said they aim “to break new boundaries in theatre-making” with their production and that it is “the very first live motion capture performance appearing in a major classical stage production”.

They have been working on the development of the production since September 2015 with The Imaginarium Studios.

‘Very excited’

Speaking in rehearsals, Quartley admitted they were “still trying to work out the dynamic, the relationship between Prospero and Ariel and the avatar of Ariel and how that ‘menage a trois works’. It’s a bit confusing at the moment but it’s getting clearer and clearer the more we do it.”

Beale, who played the role of Ariel last time he performed The Tempest with the RSC, said he was excited about the challenge the new technology brought.

“He’s (Ariel’s) my closest mate on stage so we have to work out what I feel about that but I’m very positive, I’ve very excited about it.”

The production is directed by RSC artistic director Gregory Doran who said it was “great” to be “able to use this new technology to find a different means of expression”.

The play opens in November in Stratford-Upon-Avon and concludes Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary year.

It will be broadcast live to cinemas across the UK and Europe on 11 January 2017, followed by replayed screenings around the world.

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