Royal Shakespeare Company R&D Challenge

End date: 14 August 2024

XR Network+ is partnering with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) to run a research and development challenge for academic-led projects to explore the creative possibilities of virtual production technologies in live theatre performance. 

The RSC R&D challenge is an opportunity for two project teams to work with the RSC to investigate how performance can be captured and offered as new theatre experiences across a range of platforms. 

The projects will form the next chapter of the RSC’s pioneering work bringing live performance capture to theatre and will investigate multi-platform experiences including live broadcast, and interactive experiences for game platforms, mobile, streaming and broadcast. 

With their multi-platform ambitions in mind, the RSC is looking to develop new tools and pipelines that enable:

  • Real-time performance capture under dynamic ‘stage conditions’.
  • Real-time performance data to drive on stage video/3D assets.
  • Real-time performance data to drive dynamic and free moving objects.
  • Real-time facial capture data to map to tactile, moving surfaces.

Successful projects will contribute to ongoing R&D at the RSC, exploring pipelines to combine traditional stage crafts with motion capture and virtual production technology to enable a hybrid live and virtual production.

UK Research and Innovation FEC grants standard terms and conditions will be applicable to the funding. Projects must be costed on a 100% Full Economic Cost basis to a maximum of £75,000 at 100% FEC and will be funded at 80% FEC. 

Contributions to the project from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are welcomed but must be appointed by the university project lead on a sub-contractor basis.

As challenge-holder, the RSC will provide creative and strategic direction to the projects, supporting access to RSC resources and talent. XR Network+ will provide a senior creative producer who will work closely with the project team and the RSC. 

Project teams are expected to deliver their own technical R&D using their own facilities and resources. 


There is a two stage application process for this R&D challenge. 

  1. Applicants are invited to complete an application form that describes their proposed project, methodology, team, budget, outputs and intended outcomes. 
  2. The RSC and XR Network+ will review applications and invite a shortlist of up to four applicants to project development workshops. The workshops will provide an opportunity for the applicant teams to work with the RSC to develop their project ideas further, with support from XR Network+. Two of these shortlisted projects will be selected and funded, with project activities commencing in January 2025.

Please refer to the R&D challenge guidance document for information about selection and eligibility criteria, expected project outputs and funding.



Online briefing and Q&A: 2:00pm to 3:30pm on Tuesday 16 July 2024

Applications close: 5:00pm on Wednesday 14 August 2024

Shortlisting and invitations to project development workshops: Wednesday 4 September 2024

Project development workshops at the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon: Wednesday 18 and Thursday 19 September 2024

Final two projects selected: Week of 30 September 2024

Projects commence: 20 January 2025

Projects report and close: 20 July 2025

Project showcase at Beyond 2025: November 2025 (date to be confirmed)

For more information, please email [email protected]

Photo by Topher McGrillis ©️ RSC, The Tempest production photos 2016