Visualising Theatre Historiography: Judith Thompson's White Biting Dog (1984 and 2011) in the Simulated Environment for Theatre (SET)

Jennifer Roberts-Smith, Teresa Dobson, Sandra Gabriele, Omar Rodriguez-Arenas, Stan Ruecker, Stéfan Sinclair, Shawn DeSouza-Coelho, Alexandra Kovacs, Daniel So

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This essay considers the opportunities afforded by the Simulated Environment for Theatre (SET) for exploring the functions of and relationships between historical theatrical texts and other records of performance. Over the course of SET’s development, the system’s digital environment for visualizing theatrical text and performance has increasingly emphasised affordances that are not available in other digital or material environments. Our most recent focus has been on SET’s potential applications for theatre historians, in particular because of the system’s user-controlled, hybrid two- and three-dimensional interface, which permits the simultaneous visualization of a variety of research materials and performance simulations. Through a research project exploring the theatre-historical significance of Soulpepper Theatre’s 2011 production of Judith Thompson’s White Biting Dog in relation to the Tarragon Theatre’s 1984 premiere of the play, we have identified some current strengths of SET as a tool for theatre-historical research, as well as some technical improvements that would enhance its efficacy, and some design challenges warranting further consideration. With some refinements, SET has the potential to add to the affordances offered by existing digital tools through its ability to visualise theatre-historical methodologies and its positioning of the user as the agent of research, making it an environment for historiographical as well as historical scholarship.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalDigital Studies/Le champ numérique
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013


  • theatre history
  • theatre historiography
  • text visualization
  • SimulatedEnvironment for Theatre
  • Judith Thompson
  • White Biting Dog
  • Soulpepper Theatre
  • Tarragon Theatre
  • performance reconstruction
  • performance simulation
  • virtual theatre


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