Performing with an Improv Robot

Key Responsibilities:

  • Project leader
  • Primary designer of Robot Improv Puppet Theatre
  • Coordinated and lead a 2-hour user study with 7 professional improvisers participating (included video-recording, demographic questionnaires, system walk-through, semi-structured group interview, and time for the actors to use the system/perform with the system)
  • Transcribed video-recordings of user study and performed open coding on the data
  • Primary writer for our full length research paper published at DIS 2018
  • Researched, created, and executed a 20-minute presentation at a computer science conference in Hong Kong
  • Performed as an improviser alongside our robot in all demos

Project Description: (abstract

In improvisational theatre (improv), actors perform unscripted scenes together, collectively creating a narrative. Audience suggestions introduce randomness and build audience engagement, but can be challenging to mediate at scale. We present Robot Improv Puppet Theatre (RIPT), which includes a performance robot (Pokey) who performs gestures and dialogue in short-form improv scenes based on audience input from a mobile interface. We evaluated RIPT in several initial informal performances, and in a rehearsal with seven professional improvisers. The improvisers noted how audience prompts can have a big impact on the scene – highlighting the delicate balance between ambiguity and constraints in improv. The open structure of RIPT performances allows for multiple interpretations of how to perform with Pokey, including one-on-one conversations or multi-performer scenes. While Pokey lacks key qualities of a good improviser, improvisers found his serendipitous dialogue and gestures particularly rewarding.

Demos:

UIST 2017 Student Innovation Contest (Quebec City)
Interactions Lab Demo Day 2018 (University of Calgary)
Computer Science Showcase 2018 (University of Calgary)
DIS 2018 (Hong Kong)
Beakerhead 2018 (Calgary)

Presentation:

DIS 2018 (Hong Kong)

Publications:

Frederik Højlund Westergård, Jonathan Komang-Sønderbek, Malthe Emil Blichfeldt, Jonas Fritsch, Tiffany Wun, Claire Mikalauskas, Kevin Ta, Joshua Horacsek, Lora Oehlberg, Daisuke Uriu, William Odom, Mei-Kei Lai, Masahiko Inami, Harvey Bewley, and Laurens Boer. 2019. Demo hour. Interactions 26, 2 (February 2019), 10-13. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3309719

Claire Mikalauskas, Tiffany Wun, Kevin Ta, Joshua Horacsek, and Lora Oehlberg. 2018. Improvising with an Audience-Controlled Robot Performer. In Proceedings of the 2018 on Designing Interactive Systems Conference 2018 (DIS ’18). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 657-666. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3196709.3196757

Tiffany Wun, Claire Mikalauskas, Kevin Ta, Joshua Horacsek, and Lora Oehlberg. 2018. RIPT: Improvising with an Audience-Sourced Performance Robot. In Proceedings of the 19th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility (DIS ’18). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 323-326. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3197391.3205397

Project Team:

Claire Mikalauskas
Tiffany Wun
Kevin Ta
Joshua John Horacsek
Lora Oehlberg

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