Galileo Online

Written by Tom Gorman

In May 2019 students from the BA Theatre and Professional Practice degree, Coventry University collaborated with students and staff from Purdue University theatre department on a two week course exploring the text of Bertolt Brecht’s ‘The Life of Galileo’.

For the first time, the telepresence project moved away from examining Shakespeare’s plays and moved into a more contemporary arena which, of course, brought a new set of challenges.

Purdue University, which is situated in West Lafayette, Indiana (just over 100 miles from Chicago) is approximately 4000 miles from Coventry (as the crow flies). This means that the audio and video has to make an almost 8000 mile round trip which adds around 1 second of latency to the signal. On this occasion, networking protocols were vital in ensuring that there were as few impedements to the a/v signal as possible in order to keep the latency to a manageable level.

On the Coventry side, the actors were mainly the same group who had worked with Poznan on ‘Caesar Online’ with a few additions who were new to this process whilst on the Purdue side we had a mix of theatre graduates and enthusiasts who studied in other disciplines.

Rehearsals occurred over two weeks in late May 2019 with two performances at the end of the process showing the work to invited audiences in both Purdue and Coventry. As is now traditional, several workshops were taken by guest practitioners including a clowning workshop with Connor Nolan from Noctium Theatre, Amy Lynn Budd from Purdue leading a class on Burlesque and Ann M Shanahan from Purdue who led a discussion on Brecht and his rehearsal techniques.

This documentary shows some of the workshops and rehearsals as well as some highlights from the live performances conducted simultaneously in Coventry and West Lafayette at the conclusion of the project.