Visualising Lost Theatres Project
Client: Visualising Lost Theatres Research Consortium

3-D Virtual Reconstruction
Interactive Environment
VR and Desktop Delivery

Introducing the Visualising Lost Theatres Project: Ortelia, commissioned by the Visualising Lost Theatres Research Consortium, reconstructs ‘lost’ theatre venues with remarkable precision. Led by Professor Joanne Tompkins, Emeritus Professor Julie Holledge, Dr Jonathan Bollen, and AusStage, the Consortium delves into venues worldwide that have been demolished or significantly altered.

In the words of the researchers….

Visualising Lost Theatres studies a selection of venues from across the world that have been ‘lost,’ whether through being demolished or having experienced substantial remodeling or rebuilding.


With 3D visualisation technology, we can recreate such venues with a high degree of accuracy to actually ‘inhabit’ them, to evaluate how performance operated there, and to investigate the ways in which people (actors and audience) intersected and interacted in them. This project argues for the importance of understanding a venue as the key step in the historical interpretation of live event. The project examines theatres from social, cultural, geographical and historical contexts, venues that have been sites of social and cultural transformation. These theatres and forms have provided the material constraints that have shaped some of the most enduring theatrical genres of world theatre and cultural production.

The reconstructed theatres include:

  • London’s 1590s Rose Theatre (near the Globe Theatre and of a similar shape, but with its smaller size, it provides a very different performance effect from the better-known Globe),
  • The 1860s Bergen Theatre in Norway (the country’s first national theatre and the location for Henrik Ibsen’s education as a playwright),
  • The 1841 Queen’s Theatre in Adelaide (the oldest extant theatre in Australia, it premiered Othello at a time of controversy over the treatment of local Aborigines),
  • The mid nineteenth-century form of Cantonese opera (which was performed in mobile bamboo theatres in China’s Pearl River Delta and then transported to the Victorian goldfields where it was performed in circus tents), and
  • The Las Vegas showroom at the Stardust Casino in the 1950s (to which a Paris-based dance troupe came and performed acts about cultures from around the globe).

Each venue has been reconstructed based on the available information. This information ranges from detailed architectural drawings to photographs and sketches. Where no information regarding wall colours and coverings exist these theatres have been reconstructed in gray-scale.Each venue is published as both a desktop 3D interactive environment and as VR ported to the HTC VIVE VR headset.

The Rose Theater

The Queens Theater

The 1860s Bergen Theatre

Cantonese Theatre

The Stardust Theater