NYT digital associate Ben Carlin: ‘When used well in theatre, digital tech is magic’
How did you start off in theatre?
Growing up in Cornwall, I was introduced to fantastic companies such as Kneehigh Theatre, O-region and amazing outdoor spaces such as the Minack and Sterts theatres. I became a National Youth Theatre member around the same time I went to London to study drama. This, combined with my love for technology, set me on the path into digital theatre.
What is your best advice for students today?
Never rely on anyone else to make things happen for you. Seek out funding, mentoring and support. Start getting used to being business-minded – from budgeting and quoting to promoting yourself and your brand.
What would you change about UK training?
Often the digital and tech aspects of theatre are separated from traditional actor training. I believe in a holistic approach where these elements should be tied in, not bolted on as an afterthought. That’s what we’re trying to achieve with NYT’s digital storytelling course – to make it equally relevant whether you’re an actor or a technology specialist.
What is the best part of your job?
Whether devising holographic performances for VR or creating physical installations for 360 VR experiences, each project has its own unique set of challenges. Every day I get to experiment with new tools and techniques. I like leading a team of people to help realise my ideas.
And your least favourite?
Uncertainty about the next pay cheque.
Who should students be looking up to?
Blast Theory, Invisible Flock, Punchdrunk, Melanie Wilson. Check out computer games such as Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture to see the blurring/crossover between immersive performance and gaming.
What is the one skill every successful theatre professional should have?
Good interpersonal skills.
What do you like most about working with digital theatre?
Technology is magic when it’s done well and is a whole other creative language to draw from.
Ben Carlin was talking to John Byrne