Back to the Future. ‘Hamlet Encounters’ and the Use of VR to Address a Time “out of joint”


The aim of my contribution is to investigate how Shakespeare has entered the cyberspace and in particular the reasons for and modalities in which the arts company CREW chose Hamlet to portray a time “out of joint” (Shakespeare 2003, p. 126). Since every generation seems to find in Hamlet and his troubled time a metaphor for current conflicts, CREW used the play to draw a parallel between the quest for truth in the conflicted world of the seventeenth century and our own times. The use of VR inevitably leads to the loss of reference points, therefore the experiencer of the virtual space must negotiate his/her senses that cannot be trusted anymore. Thus, Hamlet Encounters offers the tool needed to highlight how technology is changing our own perception of the world and how it brings us to question ourselves like Hamlet does.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v45p225

Keywords: Shakespeare; cyberspace; CREW; media; theatre; immersant


Ármean O. 2020, Trust and Technologies of Sense. VR and Proprioception in Hamlet Encounters, in “Acta Universitatis Sapientiae, Communicatio” 7, pp. 1-12.

Bakk Á.K. 2019, Performativity and Worldmaking. Interview with Chiel M. Kattenbelt, in “Acta Univ. Sapientiae, Film and Media Studies” 17, pp. 169-178.

Blom K., Llobera J.J. and Slater M. 2013, Telling Stories within Immersive Virtual Environments in “Leonardo” 46 [5] (2013), pp. 471-476.

Bokhoven F. 2008, Performance documentation 7: Crash in Bleeker M. (ed.), Anatomy Live: Performance and the Opening Theatre, Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam, pp. 205-211.

Bouko C. 2014, Dramaturgy and the immersive theatre experience, in Romanska M. (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Dramaturgy, Routledge, Oxford/New York, pp. 459-465.

Coates G. 1992, Program from Invisible Site-a virtual show, a multimedia performance work presented by George Coates Performance Works, San Francisco.

Dodge M., Kitchin R. 2001, Mapping Cyberspace, Routledge, London/New York.

Gibson W. 1984, Neuromancer, Victor Gollanz, London.

Harris J.G. 2010, Shakespeare and Literary Theory, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Kramer G. 1995, Sound and Communication in Virtual Reality, in Biocca F. and Levy M.R. (eds.), Communication in the Age of Virtual Reality, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc., Hillsdale, pp. 259-276.

McLuhan M. 1994, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, The MIT Press, London/New York.

Merx S. 2005, Devenir virtuel: la cristallisation de l’acteur, in Arfara K. (éd.), Théâtre et intermédialité, Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, Villeneuve d’Ascq, pp. 223-230.

Meyer K. 1995, Dramatic Narrative in Virtual Reality, in Biocca F. and Levy M.R. (eds.), Communication in the Age of Virtual Reality, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc., Hillsdale, pp. 219-259.

Poster M. 1995, The Second Media Age, Polity Press, Cambridge.

Ryan M. 2001, Virtual Reality as Dream and as Technology, in Ryan M. (ed.), Narrative as Virtual Reality, The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore/London, pp. 48-75.

Shakespeare W. 2003, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, The New Cambridge Shakespeare, ed. by Edwards P., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Shaughnessy R. 2011, The Routledge Guide to William Shakespeare, Routledge, London/New York.

Vanhoutte K. and Wyanants N. 2010, The Work of CREW with Eric Joris in Bay-Cheng S., Kattenbelt C., Lavander A. and Nelson R. (eds.), Mapping Intermediality in Performance, University Press Amsterdam, Amsterdam, pp. 69-75.

White G. 2012, On Immersive Theatre, in “Theatre Research International” 37 [3], pp. 221-235.

Websites and Tools

‘Hamlet’ in Virtual Reality Casts the Viewer in the Play 2019. (25.01.2019).

At This ‘Tempest,’ Digital Wizardry Makes ‘Rough Magic’ 2017. (25.01.2019).

CREW online. (12 April 2019).

Javer Molina To Be With Hamlet. (25.04.2019).

Artist Talk - Digitale Kunst: Eric Joris. (18.01.2019).

Machon J., Felix Barrett in Discussion with Josephine Machon. (25.01.2019).

Sleep No More. (13.03.2019).

To Be With Hamlet. (24.03.2019).

WGBH Hamlet 360: Thy Father’s Spirit – Shakespeare in VR. (24.01.2019).

Full Text: pdf


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 3.0 Italia License.