Virtuoso (2009–10)


Three performers in swimwear 'sunbathe' on rectangles of astroturf in front of video cameras on tripods. Three TV screens in front show composed images of the sunbathers seemingly in a garden. (Virtuoso).

With Virtuoso, Proto-type Theater expanded on the sensory experience of the critically acclaimed Whisper (2007–8) into a world of tele-visual decadence.

A television show that doesn’t exist. A spot on the wall…

Performer Gillian Lees holds a video camera to her eye, the camera image feeds to a TV screen at the front of the stage. (Virtuoso).

Three performers stage the story of a stagnant American suburbia, circa 1963, where the minutiae of everyday life has become strange: glass windows portend violence, a spot on the wall promises freedom and a stranger appears in the living room…

The audience witnesses the construction of this strange world on three flat screen monitors, behind which the performers can be seen assembling the backgrounds, costumes and props necessary to crafting a series of perfect images.

Andrew Westerside stood on stage, surrounded by props, miniature sets, and cameras. Three screens show composed images of the stage. (Virtuoso).

Building the visual world in front of the audience using live video feeds, the performers also manipulate miniature figurines, houses and scenery in a play on scale that toys with the boundaries of perception. Virtuoso is a negotiation of the live and the mediated, ruminating on love, home, and perfection


Written and directed by Peter S Petralia
Performed and devised by Mark Esaias, Gillian Lees and Andrew Westerside
Music/sound design by [zygote]
Lighting design by Rebecca MK Makus

Virtuoso is a Nuffield New Works commission from Nuffield Theatre Lancaster. Development time was provided by Lanternhouse Creation Centre in Ulverston and the Bluecoat Arts Centre in Liverpool. Supported by The National Lottery through Arts Council England.


“An immensely satisfying slice of cultural history- part fantasy-idyll, part disturbing analogy of a self-contained world on the brink of destruction.” 

– Total Theatre

“This is beautifully crafted stuff that has a broader relevance and audience than a traditional theatre company based in one city could manage.”

– Tina Jackson, The Metro


Writing about the piece can be found here.

Press and comments are available here.