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Through the Cracks

‘Through the Cracks’ Augmented Reality Theatre
How can we mitigate theatre’s environmental impact and evoke ‘live’ remote experiences using augmented reality?
‘Through the Cracks’ is an Augmented Reality Theatre project by Jack Hardiker, Office of Everyone and The English Touring Theatre.
Using their phone or tablet cameras, audiences see a virtual chasm appear on the physical floor beneath them. Through this fault line, they watch a story unfold, performed by real humans. The illusion of three dimensionality is created using a new technique that has been specifically developed for this project. The story is viewed from overhead as the performance appears to be happening under the floor of the physical world. This method of presenting stories through Augmented Reality (AR) has the quality of an intimate performance rather than a piece of linear recorded media.

AR traditionally involves adding to, or embellishing objects, people and spaces. However, these embellishments exist within the established, often discriminatory social structures of our physical world. Conversely, ‘Through the Cracks’ employs AR to create new, extended spaces for storytelling and expression. This unconventional interpretation of AR is not a virtual space, fully detached from the physical world, it is a liminal space between spaces that can be used to communicate undervalued and overlooked stories. Whilst ‘Through the Cracks’ seeks to address established structures using technology, we remain mindful of the imperialistic systems that underpin technology’s development.

In addressing the typical barriers to accessing theatre, such as age, geography, socioeconomic and disability status, we simultaneously explore how innovation in “live” performance can mitigate the art form’s environmental impact. This new digital form reduces many of the carbon intensive aspects of traditional theatre such as stage lighting, scenic fabrication and transport. Here, environmental action meets contemporary storytelling to create compelling, accessible art.

The first prototype story told with ‘Through the Cracks’ was created in collaboration with playwright Dipo Baruwa-Etti. The piece follows two West African protagonists on a perilous journey to England.

Jack Hardiker

Royal College of Art


Jack Hardiker is an interdisciplinary artist and creative director. He works with both established and emergent creative techniques to tell important stories in playful, memorable, and unexpected ways. Whether presented on a website, in a virtual environment or in a physical space, Jack’s work empowers audiences with the agency to affect outcomes.

Jack’s work with digital/postdigital art and performance has received considerable funding alongside award nominations including the Media Architecture Biennale and the Lumen Prize. Jack was awarded a DYCP grant to develop his research in XR theatre.

Jack holds a Tutor (Research) position at the Royal College of Art, supporting a diverse group of UK and international students. The Digital Direction MA addresses emerging issues in contemporary technology and the creative economy.

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A short clip from ‘Through the Cracks’ Augmented Reality Theatre