New Theater Arts drama a ‘grand experiment’ in arts and technology

Unusual classical play to be performed in separate ‘worlds’ linked by the Internet

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The Thinning Veil—a new play featuring some of Greek tragedy’s most prominent characters—literally takes place in two different worlds.

Audience members will buy a ticket for either UCSC’s Experimental Theater or the Dark Lab in the campus’s  Digital Arts and New Media Research Center.

In each building, they will watch the live action in the theater where they are physically seated—as well as the action in the alternate location.

Real-time internet connectivity will link the casts in both venues.

“It’s very intricate,” said Theater Arts lecturer Kirsten Brandt, who wrote the play based on several classical Greek works, and is also directing the UCSC production.

“With six live cameras (three in each venue) we have the capacity for six separate images on six different screens, or any combination thereof,” she explained.

“It’s a grand experiment in the intersection of arts and technology,” Brandt added.

Or as UCSC associate Theater Arts professor Ted Warburton put it:

“Watching Kirsten direct this play is like watching someone play chess in 3D: each move, each decision creates ripples across multiple dimensions of space and time.”

Warburton, the producer of The Thinning Veil, is a dancer and choreographer who has himself experimented with “telematic” or distance performance.

In 2005, he staged a Theater Arts production titled “Lubricious Transfer,” in which student dancers at UC Santa Cruz and New York University performed simultaneously-- interacting on projected screens through a live streaming connection.

Brandt’s new play is drawn from such Greek classics as Electra by Euripides, The Oresteia by Aeschylus, and The Illiad by Homer.

It features Theater Arts associate professor Patty Gallagher as Clytemnestra, the embittered wife of Agamemnon, and the tortured mother of Electra, Orestes and their half-sister Erigone.

Gallagher performed last year at UCSC in the Shakespeare Santa Cruz productions of The Three Musketeers and Henry IV, Part 1.

Brandt is an award-winning director and playwright, who has served as executive artistic director of San Diego’s leading alternative theater, Sledgehammer, as well as associate artistic director of San Jose Repertory Theater.

The Thinning Veil will run at UCSC March 2 through 11, at 7 p.m., with Sunday matinees beginning at 3 p.m. 

The play is recommended for mature audiences.

The Thinning Veil is about more than the relationships between actors and audience or between conventional and experimental forms,” Warburton noted.

“It is the site of connection between here-and-now, and there-and-then."

Tickets are available online at, the UCSC Ticket Office (831-459-2159), and the Santa Cruz Civic Box Office (831) 420-5260.


The Thinning Veil is produced by the UCSC Theater Arts Department in conjunction with the UCSC Digital Arts and New Media Program.