Although the theatre remains closed, audiences were given a chance to be at Northern Stage virtually in September by having their picture drawn by robots inside the venue. 

Bringing us closer together

At a time when we are distanced from each other, A Portrait Without Borders brought people together. Audiences were able to submit a selfie online to be drawn on the walls of Northern Stage by robots who then created a massive mural of faces. Strangers next to each other, simultaneously present, together, and yet apart.

Audiences could watch a live stream of the robots in action, and when 

Northern Stage Executive Director Kate Denby said, “While nothing could replace the buzz of a live audience, we’re really excited to welcome a virtual audience to the theatre and to be bringing such impressive, innovative work to Newcastle for people to enjoy - not just this week, but for everyone to see when we can safely reopen the building.” 

A virtual full house

The robots drew 508 people and 1 cat over the six day installation of A Portrait Without Borders, enough to pack the house in Stage 1 (the cat would have to wait outside). The finished mural will be moved into the front of house area to welcome everyone back to the theatre when it reopens.

Watch: A Portrait Without Borders Time-lapse

A Portrait Without Borders is a Kaleider production commissioned by Freedom Festival in Hull where it opened in September 2020. Kaleider is an international production studio led by artist Seth Honnor. Playing on the edge of installation, live performance and digital Kaleider makes artworks for audiences all over the world and runs innovation programmes in art and creative technology for others to develop and produce work.

A Portrait Without Borders took place at Northern Stage from 14-19 September.