BEYOND Deep Dive: Current, Rising

Inspired by Shakespeare’s Tempest, Current, Rising combines virtual reality with a physical built environment to create a multi-sensory, immersive, musical experience at the Royal Opera House. It is the world’s first original opera in hyper reality, a result of a unique collaboration between Figment Productions, StoryFutures (as part of the Creative Industries Clusters Programme) and Royal Holloway University.

Directed by Netia Jones, designed by Joanna Scotcher, and composed by Samantha Fernando, Current, Rising is inspired by the liberation of Ariel at the end of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. It places audiences at the centre of an immersive, dream-like virtual world, taking them on a journey through imaginary landscapes of the night, from twilight to dawn. Current, Rising is a fully immersive 360 experience exploring ideas of isolation, connection, and how we can collectively reimagine our futures. It allows audience members to step inside a production and have a “multi-sensory” experience involving sight, sound and touch, as well as “4D effects” such as wind.

In this ‘Deep Dive‘, on Day 2 of the BEYOND Conference 2020 schedule, two of the principal creators behind the experience, Annette Mees and Simon Reveley, discuss the origins and realisation of the project. Joining them will be Challenge Director for the Audience of the Future and Creative Industries Clusters Professor Andrew Chitty, discussing how the project links to the conference’s Day 2 theme of Convergence.

Current, Rising has been produced as part of the Royal Opera House’s innovation programme, Audience Labs, and will take place in the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre from 28 November 2020.

Introducing: Annette Mees

Annette Mees is an award-winning artist and immersive theatre director. She advises on the future of culture, artistic innovation, creative R&D and models of art that allow dialogue with audiences.

Annette is currently the Head of The Audience Labs at the Royal Opera House – dedicated to exploring the artistic possibilities of immersive technologies. It partners leading artists with cutting-edge creative immersive technology and inter-disciplinary creative teams to create world-class work that innovates and pushes boundaries.

Introducing: Prof Andrew Chitty

Prof Andrew Chitty

Professor Andrew Chitty is Challenge Director for the two Creative Industries programmes at the heart of the Creative Industries Sector Deal. This £120m investment is supported by the Government’s Industrial Strategy and delivered by UK Research and Innovation.

The £50m Audience of the Future Challenge will deliver a step change in the ability of the UK creative sector to adopt immersive technologies through business led innovation, whilst the £85m Creative Industries Clusters Programme supports nine University/Business R&D partnerships across the UK.

Introducing: Simon Reveley

Simon Reveley is the founder of Figment Productions, a digital media production company, delivering projects for numerous high-profile clients, including ROH. In recent years Figment has followed a new course, specialising in immersive production work, including projects such as Derren Brown’s Ghost Train at Thorpe Park, The Great LEGO Race VR and the patented Vector VR rollercoaster system for Kraken Unleashed.

Co-funded by an Innovate UK grant, Figment’s first VR short film premiered at SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival. It was swiftly followed by immersive hyper-reality experience ‘Jurassica’, which ran on Figment’s ‘Helix’ technology platform. Simon was then able to secure funding from the government’s ‘Audience of the Future’ fund to develop new production tools for use in Current, Rising.


To experience the showcases and speakers featured in this article, tickets for BEYOND are on sale now. Join us from 30 November – 3rd December 2020 for this year’s BEYOND – a unique, annual gathering of current and future innovators focused on Research and Development across the Creative Industries. The all virtual BEYOND 2020 is a space where thinkers, makers, investors and researchers across the creative industries come together to explore the relationship between creative research and business innovation. Find out What’s On and register for updates for all the latest.