All About Cyberperformance

Cyberformance is known as a kind of theatrical performance wherein participants are able to work remotely through the use of technology such as the internet. Specific technologies are being used for this such as UpStage, Waterwheel Tap, and Visitors Studio. It is also known as digital theatre or telematics performance. Then of course, the target audience is also able to watch the performances through online mediums. All they need is the internet. Sometimes, it is possible that there is a hybrid of physical audience and remote audience.

The term cyberformance was given birth by Helen Varley Jamieson, who is a curator and an internet artist. Cyberformance was existent as early as the year 2000. Jamieson was able to track the early stages of cyberformance way back 1977 in what was called Satellite Arts Project. Interactive artists Sherrie Rabinowitz and Kit Galloway made use of live video mixing as they believed in the need to create a performance space that is not limited with regard to geographic boundaries.

Here are some prominent projects in cyberformance through the years

The Hamnet Players

Founded in 1993, these artists performed using IRC chat or Internet Relay Chat. What they did was a parody of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in 1994 but they gave the title “Hamnet” to it. There were a total of 18 performers. The performers did not need to wear any costumes nor project their voices. All they needed was fast typing skills.

The Plaintext Players

Plaintext PlayersThe founder was Antoinette LaFarge and the medium they often worked at were MOOs, or text-based online virtual reality systems. They mostly performed theatre, poetry, and fiction. Their famous productions were Gutter City, which was a story about Ishmael of Moby-Dick, and LittleHamlet, which was also about Shakespeare’s Hamlet.


Using a web browser and live video, Nina Sobell and Emily Hartzell were able to pull off a collaborative drawing and performance altogether in 1994.

Desktop Theater

Their famous project was in 1997 and was founded by Lisa Brenneis and Adriene Jenik. The group lasted from 1997 to 2002. They made use of the platform The Palace. What was new in their performance was the enabling of watching an interactive theater and responding in chat rooms at the same time for the audience. Desktop Theater was able to complete almost 40 performances throughout their career.

Avatar Body Collision

Avatar Body CollisionIn 2002, Leena Saarinen, Vicki Smith, Karla Ptacek, and Helen Varley Jamieson made use of UpStage which was a famous web-based software. The government of New Zealand was even the one who gave the grant for this medium to be possible. The founders are an all-woman team coming from London, Helsinki, Australia, and New Zealand. The typical set-up is that a spectator sees one performer while the other performers appear as avatars on webcams. As the story progresses, the focus to the webcams move too in connection to the progression of the narrative elements.