Hybrid Real Stages

Cocreative performances in analogue-digital intermediate spaces

The focus in this sub-project is on the relationship between physical reality and virtual space and interaction processes between spectators and musicians/performers. With the development and realisation of the VR performance „Spatial Encounters“, we explored the extent to which the combination of a real/physical space with a digital/immaterial space can be used as a design tool, thus enabling new spaces of experience. The secondary aim was to explore co-creation processes in the context of artistic stagings and performance spaces, with a focus on musical experience.


  • What are the characteristics of a hybrid-real „in-between world“ as a transitional space?
  • What technical, scenographic and dramaturgical prerequisites are necessary for the success of co-creation, immersion and co-presence in hybrid-real space?
  • What spatial effects can be developed in hybrid parallel worlds?

In the sense of an artistic-experimental research, this project is dedicated to the question of how a hybrid-real stage space can be staged in which artists and audiences meet and become both actors and designers of a jointly created experience.

In collaboration with students from various universities and with scenographers and musicians, we developed and tested different approaches for the use of virtual reality in co-creative scenarios in prototypical experimental arrangements. In addition to exploring the technical limits and possibilities, the focus was on the question of how collective creativity and scope for action can be used to produce a joint work with artistic expressiveness. We implemented the insights gained in the experiments in the VR project „Spatial Encounters“: This hybrid-real encounter space explores dialogue processes between music, people and space at the intersection of analogue and digital worlds.
The motive for this project is the dissolution of classical concert conventions and frontal transmitter-receiver situations, combined with the search for new bidirectional forms of dialogue between acoustic and visual spaces. In this transformative transitional space, we want to direct the attention of the participants on the one hand to the moment of „making music“, and on the other hand to the joint creation. This is connected with an invitation to „listen differently“.

The underlying software solution for the project is a web-based XR application developed by us and hosted on a local server: Mobile VR headsets (for example Meta Quest 2) can access a shared virtual space via the integrated browser. This is where the live performance takes place: One or more musicians, a visual jockey as „Master of Virtual Scenography“ and up to nine visitors meet in an equal dialogue.

In an open space of about 150 square metres, the audience is immersed in a virtual scenery, which is then filled, designed and experienced together for the next 20 minutes. They move freely in these digital landscapes and generate visual effects and sculptures through their encounters and spatial relationships. The resulting immaterial spatial bodies and virtual sceneries are interpreted live musically. At the same time, the musicians themselves give stimulating impulses and moods to the performative interplay. Through these diverse interactions, the shared experience in virtual space becomes a catalyst for a co-creative process of creation.

The hybrid-real musical encounter “Spatial Encounters” celebrated its premiere on 27 & 28 August 2021 as part of the Thuringian Chamber Music Festival at Volkenroda Monastery. The entire programme: https://www.sommerkonzerte-volkenroda.de

Project team digital.DTHG
Concept and Project lead:
Franziska Ritter, Pablo Dornhege
Development: Lea Schorling and Sascha Sigl
3D-Modelling and 3D-Scans:
Sascha Sigl, Pablo Dornhege
Event technology: Vincent Kaufmann

Partners and expters
Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin
Technische Universität Berlin
Kloster Volkenroda
David Wedel, Konzertmeister
Gewandhausorchester Leipzig
Prof. Stephanie Winker, Hochschule für Musik und
Darstellende Kunst Frankfurt am Main
Christian Siegmund, freischaffender

News about the project

Webinar for European Theatre Convention

In this Webinar for the European Theatre Convention, Franziska Ritter will show different approaches and possibilities based on the research project “Im/material Theatre Spaces” by digital.DTHG, the digital competence centre of the Deutsche Theatertechnische Gesellschaft. Theatre has always been a pioneer for the development and application of new technologies, it is a place for artistic …

Final publication of research project “Im/material Theatre Spaces”

The research project “Im/material Theatre Spaces – Augmented and Virtual Reality for Theatre” has been successfully completed after 2.5 years. This publication summarises the findings of the project and provides insights into the interdisciplinary, practice-oriented research work. Download publication (pdf 8 MB)

Actors in co-creative playing environments

When looking at the design possibilities for a VR production, it helps to first draw attention to the target audience:

Cocreative performances in Hybrid-real stage spaces

When the audience is integrated into an artistic performance through the use of participatory strategies, the suggested cooperation at eye level often takes place only superficially. The participants are only given limited power to act and are usually involved in the supposedly collective creative process without authorship.

Insights and Outlook – Interview Franziska Ritter & Pablo Dornhege

After two intensive research years, the project leaders Franziska Ritter and Pablo Dornhege take a look behind the scenes, draw a summary and glimpse into the future. In doing so, they are asking themselves the same questions that they have posed to their partners in the current project.

Presentation at Bühnentechnische Tagung Ulm

In June 2022, the 61st stage technology conference of the DTHG took place in Ulm: with an extensive program of presentations, panel discussions, round tables and lectures, the theatre landscape was finally able to celebrate its industry meeting live again.  71 companies and more than 1,100 guests were on site, got to know each other …

Results of the project Hybrid-real stage spaces

Cocreative performances in analog-digital interstices  The central field of investigation in this subproject is the relationship between physical reality and virtual space and interaction processes between spectators and musicians/performers. With the development and realization of the VR performance “Spatial Encounters” we explored the extent to which the linking of a real/physical space with a digital/immaterial …

Results, licences, sustainable usage

The solutions we developed as part of the research project “Im/material Theatre Spaces” (2019-2022) serve as sustainably transferable concepts due to their prototypical model character. The gained insights and developed model solutions were published on various channels and are made available to the entire cultural landscape for free and flexible use.  Licenses For this purpose, …

Quickly explained: VR content – pre-produced versus real-time rendered, passive versus interactive?!

The types of content that can be presented and experienced in virtual reality are diverse and very different – we provide an overview.

Quickly explained: What? How? Web XR?

WebXR – what is that actually and how does it work? We use this technology for several of our digital.DTHG prototypes – here we explain what it is.  

THINK Hybrid Spaces – Experimental Dinner between Real and Digital on 21.10.21

On October 21, 2021, our project leaders Franziska Ritter and Pablo Dornhege discussed about HYBRID SPACES at the intersection between games and theater and cooked simultaneously at THINK Hybrid Spaces at the DE:HIVE Research Center for Games at HTW Berlin.

Quickly explained: Do you have a clear view? Hygiene, care and maintenance of VR glasses

A VR headset gets to know a lot of faces and noses in the course of its operating life. Therefore, proper handling and care is important – we give you basic tips here:

Hybrid real stages?

In our project “Hybrid-real stages” we investigate with the VR experience “Spatial Encounters” to what extent the linking of a real/physical with a digital/immaterial space can be used as a design tool and enable completely new experiential spaces.

Premiere Spatial Encounters at the Summer Concerts Volkenroda

The VR Experience “Spatial Encounters” celebrated its premiere in the Thuringian monastery Volkenroda on August 27 and 28, 2021 and set experimental and virtual accents in the context of the Summer Concert Festival!

digital.DTHG at the summer concerts Volkenroda

Save the date: We will celebrate the premiere of the VR installation “Spatial Encounters” on August 27, 2021 at the summer concerts in Volkenroda! In this digital experiment, musicians and audience alike become actors, creating a shared encounter space in virtual reality (VR).

Quickly recommended: VR and AR as stage space

In the course of our daily work we encounter many interesting works by colleagues worldwide in which VR and AR open up new stage spaces or play a role as a medium in a performance. This list of links serves as a source of inspiration, orientation and further research and is continuously updated by us, …

Kick-off workshop and prototype development

An interdisciplinary kick-off workshop entitled “IM/MATERIAL THEATRE SPACES” took place in spring 2019 at the TU Berlin under the direction of Franziska Ritter and Pablo Dornhege.

More projects

CANON Theatre Technical History

The aim of this joint project with nine European university partners is to promote awareness and understanding of a European history of theatre technology. The project contributes to the current discourse on the preservation of the cultural heritage of transnational and international theatre technology and engineering.  

Bringing Theatre Heritage to Life

This sub-project is dedicated to the challenge of making theatre heritage visible and finding new virtual forms of mediation that do justice to »theatre« as an immaterial art form in its entirety.

Virtual Training Tools

interactive teaching and learning tools for theatre and event technicians