Presented at Tribeca Immersive 2022, IAGO: The Green Eyed Monster is a prequel to Shakespeare’s Othello that uses music and AR to turn the tables and offer a different perspective on the main antagonist, Iago. We discussed it with Julian Dorado and Camila Marturano, directors of the play along with Josh Nelson Youssef.
A new perspective on Shakespeare
AGNESE – Congratulations on Tribeca and on the idea behind IAGO! Working with such strong material – Shakespeare, no less! – is not always easy, and changing the character in the way you did can sometimes be risky. Can you tell me a bit about the background of this piece and how 3DAR got involved in it?
When Juvee approached us with this fantastic idea – from the minds of Mary Chieffo and Josh Nelson – we were also intrigued by the challenge it posed. Not only to bring a XVII century Shakespeare story to an immersive AR experience, but also with the reversion of some key points of the main story.
As you said, in IAGO: The Green Eyed Monster, the character of Iago is not a man, but a woman, and that itself was a challenge because it’s difficult, in these times, not to become demagogic when working on this kind of subject. That’s why we focused on the nature and the motif of Iago, beyond gender and taking them out of their role as an antagonist, to develop a multifaceted and strong character through physical characteristics, such as the way she moves through space, and the strong features of her face. We did something similar with the rest of the story characters, focusing on the essence of what they represent, their actions, and what could be interesting to see in AR.
This is a really challenging task, which is why we really appreciate the trust and support we received from JuVee in this collaboration with 3dar to create original content.
A. – 3dar has worked with different media… Why tell this specific story and setting in AR?
In the last few years, 3dar has been involved in narrative projects like Paper Birds and Gloomy Eyes, and, in parallel, our AR team has continued to develop and grow. Bringing the two branches together seemed like a perfect match to us. In addition, AR media showed us a wider way of reaching the audience – no virtual reality headsets required because you can enjoy the experience with just an iPad or a phone. Another strong point was the fact that Verizon, the producer that invested in the project, wanted it to be an App, so that was another reason to connect with an AR experience.
On the role of music in IAGO: The Green Eyed Monster and in immersive technologies
A. – Iago: The Green Eyed Monster is a prequel to a longer story: tell me, do you have any plans in this regard?
We don’t have anything concrete yet, but after this experience we are very interested in continuing to develop narrative stories in AR. There is a long way to go, full of possibilities and potential.
A. – Very true! And I would definitely fangirl about a whole version of Othello but with this specific Iago as a character! The song is AMAZING, by the way, as is the idea of creating a musical using these technologies. What does it mean to do a musical interpretation of Shakespeare?
The song was an original creation, composed by Mary Chieffo and Josh Nelson Yousseff with musical producer Kush Mody. We also think it’s great! We loved it and it was a great inspiration for the creation of this piece.
Our main challenge were how to represent these musical acts visually and narratively. We worked very hard, together with JuVee, to incorporate Shakespeare’s words as much as the experience would allow. The introduction is a good example of it, because we use it to put the story on the first page, accompanied by its visual representation.
As for the choreography, all the credits go to Mary Chieffo, our choreographer Eve Jacobs, and the whole group of performers. After that, we used Motion Capture technology to create the animations that you can appreciate in the story.
A. – Paper Birds is another work in which music played a key role – something that is still relatively rare in XR works. I wonder: how is creating music for XR different from creating music for film or the stage?
XR technologies are the first to allow us to explore the spatial side of sound, and there is a lot to be discovered. At 3dar we are really interested in using these technologies to deepen 360 experiences, with music playing the main role. We never forget that it is very important to work with experienced and professional composers, like Cyrille Marchesseau – who composed the music for Goomy Eyes and Paper Birds – who understand how to do the job.
AR and storytelling
A. – How do you imagine the role of AR in the future of immersive stories? What could it add to the narrative and where could we push it?
We can think of the blending of reality and digital art, of narrative pieces interacting with our own space, as keys we are interested in developing in our (not so distant) future…
In our imagination there is also a more active role for the viewer, to achieve more interactions between the viewer and the experience, giving them the possibility to build their own stories. Surely intensifying emotions and moods in storytelling will be a challenge, but that is what moves us.
IAGO: The Green Eyed Monster is a musical AR experience created by Mary Chieffo & Josh Nelson Youssef and produced by Juvee Productions, 3Dar, Verizon. It will be featured at Tribeca Immersive from 10-19 June. Visit the official website and its page on the 3dar website.
Also, if you’re curious to know more about Tribeca Immersive 2022, take a look at our interview with curator Ana Brzezińska here. Finally, you can find out more about 3dar and their productions at the following links:
- “Music should be used as an interactive component for the viewer” – Cyrille Marchesseau (PAPER BIRDS)
- “VR offers a much deeper and intimate connection to the audience” – German Heller (PAPER BIRDS)
- Decoding XR: PAPER BIRDS, German Heller
- “The limits are being stepped over all the time” – Jorge Tereso & Fernando Maldonado (GLOOMY EYES)