HKU Theater


Utrecht (NL)


Together with Fondation Constant, Over het IJ Festival, Poetry Circle Nowhere and Feikes Huis, the HKU Theater produces the VR theater experience installation Enter New Babylon.

HKU Master Scenography

Students at HKU Master Scenography are trained to transform any environment into a theatrical surrounding, through supervising and stimulating the development of their creative and intellectual capabilities.

“Scenography is not simply concerned with creating and presenting images to an audience; it is concerned with audience reception and engagement. It is a sensory as well as an intellectual experience, emotional as well as rational.” (McKinney, Joslin (2009). The Cambridge Introduction to Scenography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)

Scenography is a design discipline, that roots from theatre, in which speculative worlds are created. Through times it has become more and more focussed on performance design and seeing the whole event as a ‘staging’ of experience. By nature, it involves designing spaces and environments that include the audience space. It has therefore become a discipline that is not only interdisciplinary, but uses a wide range of media to create immersive environments. Moreover, this is done with an awareness that both the audience and the makers will step into a world that is ‘possible’ but not necessarily true. Context awareness – knowing what it is we are experiencing – is vital for mature reflection of the world we live in (versus possible worlds). Scenographers are able to shape new forms of spaces and experiencing spaces, and can help shape the future.


Interactive Performance Design (IPD) is a Bachelor course at HKU Theatre that focuses on creating and investigating new interactive (theatrical) possibilities within the context of performance. Both technically, using advanced techniques, as well as purely analog, i.e., unplugged. The starting point is always the design of a narrative, situated within a theatrical environment manifested as an interactive physical sensory experience. To design these experiences, we develop performance tools that enable audience participation and direct manipulation of interactive media in meaningful ways.

IPD students are trained as artist-inventor who continuously re-invents and expands the visionary field of interactive performance design. The IPDer is the intermediary whose praxis incorporates the latest developments in the field of art and technology. The IPDer thinks, observes, and speaks as a dramaturge, designing experiences that always include multiple audience perspectives and levels of participation. The work of an IPDer is found in theatre environments, cultural festivals, museums, and public spaces. The IPDer creates impact within and outside art-related contexts by designing new hybrid forms of meaningful interactive performative experiences.

HKU and Constant Enter New Babylon

The HKU Master Scenography joined the production in 2020 and has been instrumental in letting the spoken word artists and designers try out their ideas in Virtual Realitt. As writing for VR is a pretty new discipline, it was very important that the makers would know what their options were, how VR feels and what works. Joris Weijdom from Interactive Performance Design was very active as an advisor and managed to secure work sessions where the makers could get their hands-on experience with different VR tools.

Commissioned by the Constant Foundation, various students and alumni from TVG, Interactive Performance Design and the Master Scenography are working on a VR experience in a physical theatrical installation as part of the Enter new Babylon project. The 2nd year IPD conducted a preliminary study inspired by this project as part of their Envision Mixed Reality block. They have created a performative experience in a so-called theatrical mixed reality environment that combines physical and virtual spaces, objects and people and immerses participants in their own vision of a new utopian society.

Team Enter New Babylon from HKU

Guus van Geffen (Scenography), Henny Dör (Theater Design), Joris Weijdom (Interactive Performace Design), Morgan Henry (Master student), Emma Bourguignon (Master student), Bianca Lurvink (Alumni), Aina Roca (Alumni), René ‘t Hart (Alumni), Juriaan Gregor (Alumni).