An international research collaborative mapping opportunities for performance spaces in a hyperconnected world
Picture of futureStage

Future Stage is an international initiative broadly concerned with the future of the performing arts: with the needs and possibilities for media, culture, and presence in a hyperconnected world; the civic stakes of the performing arts today; emergent modes and genres of performance and organization; the architecture of future performance spaces; and the future professions that will animate those performance venues. It is both theoretical and practical: consisting in A Manifesto for the Future Stage (which was published on Oct. 25, 2021, and has now been translated into twelve languages) and in an array of related hands-on projects that are connected to the manifesto’s key themes: performance as a human right, architectures that promote connectivity, expanded concepts of liveness, sustainable models of touring, a rethinking of streaming not as a fallback option but instead as an expressive medium, and the need for new institutional and fiscal models.

The manifesto was developed by a group of roughly forty leading figures from the performing arts world, from dancers, musicians, and actors to technologists, designers, and architects, to policymakers, tour organizers, and directors of cultural institutions over the course of six months of online convenings. The group covered the entire globe from East to West and North to South. And it was animated by the ambition of transforming the post-Covid “return to normal” not into a return, but instead into an opportunity to reimagine the future of the performing arts.

The project is coordinated by Jeffrey Schnapp (founder/director, metaLAB), Magda Romanska (principal researcher, metaLAB), and Paolo Petrocelli (director, Stauffer Academy for Strings)


A Manifesto for the Future Stage has been published in multiple languages on these sites:


  • “A Manifesto for the Future Stage.” American Theatre. 5 November 2021.

  • “A Manifesto for the Future Stage: Performance is a Human Right.” The Theatre Times. 20 November 2021.

  • “A Manifesto for the Future Stage. Performance is a Human Right.” The African Theatre Magazine. 15 December 2021.

  • “A Manifesto for the Future Stage.” Tekstualia. 27 January 2022.


  • “Будущее театра — театр будущего. Манифест исследователей Гарвардского университета о новой трансмедийной сцене.” Discours.io. 9 November 2021.


  • “El Escenario De Futuro Manifesto.” Acotaciones. Vol. 2 No. 47. December 2021.


  • “Manifest für die Bühne der Zukunft.” Nachtkritik.de. January 2022.


  • “Manifest sceny przyszłości.” Tekstualia. 27 January 2022.


  • “FUTURSTAGE – Un manifesto per il palcoscenico del future.” Quinte Parallele. 8 February 2022.


  • “Performance-ul este un drept uman Un manifest pentru scena viitorului.” Scena.ro. 11 February, 2022.




  • “Kiáltvány a jövő színházáért: Az előadás emberi jog – A harvardi metaLAB futureStage kutatási csapatának manifesztója.” Játéktér. 25 April 2022.


  • “【翻訳】未来の演劇のためのマニフェスト” Theatre Arts. May 14 2022.


  • “Um manifesto para o palco futuro: Performance é um direito humano.” Questão de Crítica. 6 June,2022.


  • “미래연극선언문: 공연은 인권이다 : 라이브, 테크놀로지 그리고 인류 혁신의 가능성들을 어떻게 최대한 활용할 것인가.” The Korean Theatre Journal. Vol. 105. June 2022.


  • “How Does the ‘Future Theater’ Overcome the Shock of Corona.” Makkah Newspaper. July 30, 2022.



  • futureStage Manifesto. OnTap Podcast, Episode 53, 15 December 2021. (English)

  • Klenk, Liam. “The futureStage Manifesto by metaLAB at Harvard.” TheatreArtLife. 21 January 2022. (English)

  • Alessandro Tommasi. “FuturStage. Saper guardare oltre il domani.” Quinte Parallele. 16 February 2022. (Italian)

  • Yao Yin. “Humanities and The ‘Battle of the University’.” The Crimson. 3 March 2022. (English)

  • Ilinca Todorut. “Free Performance: A Response to metaLAB’s futureStage Manifesto.” TheTheatreTimes.com. 3 March 2022. (English)

  • “FuturStage: alcune riflessioni sul futuro della formazione.” Quinte Parallele 9 March 2022. (Italian)

  • Kasia Lech. “Theatre as Shelter: On Artists’ in Ukraine (and Beyond) Response to the Russian Invasion.” The Theatre Times 29 March 2022. (English).

  • Aleks Sierz. “About the futureStage Manifesto.” AleksSierz.com 12 April 2022. (English)

  • Alexander Fatouros, “metaLAB’s futureStage: Sentient AI and the Arts.” TheTheatreTimes.com. 7 July 2022. (English)

  • Walter Byongsok Chon, “Korean, Chinese, and Japanese Theatre Artists Discuss the Future of Theatre Based on A Manifesto for the Future Stage.” The Korean Theatre Journal, Winter 2022. (Korean)

Discussion Panels



  • futureStage Exhibit at the Tieranatomisches Theater rotunda, the Viral Theatres Symposium at Freie Universität Berlin, May 2022.

  • futureStage Exhibit at the Düsseldorf Theatre Museum show “Viral Theatres: Pandemic Past/Hybrid Futures.” September 2022.


Exhibit Photo.jpg

Members of the Research Group

  • Matthew Battles (USA) Director of Scholarly Initiatives, metaLAB (at) Harvard
  • Cathie Boyd (Ireland/Scotland) Founder & Artistic Director, Cryptic
  • Marc Brickman (USA) Managing Director, Tactical Manoeuvre
  • Paolo Ciuccarelli (Italy/USA) Founding Director, Center for Design, Northeastern University, Boston
  • Wesley Cornwell (USA) Harvard Graduate School of Design
  • Lins Derry (USA) Prinicipal Researcher, metaLAB (at) Harvard
  • Evelyn Ficarra (UK) Associate Director, Centre for Research in Opera and Music Theatre, University of Sussex
  • Mariana Ibañez (Argentina/USA) Chair and Associate Professor, Architecture and Urban Design, UCLA; Co-founder, Ibañez Kim
  • Simone Kim (USA) Director, Immersive Kinematics Research Group; Co-founder, Ibañez Kim
  • Mohammed Obaidullah (Saudi Arabia) Producer
  • Jay Pather (South Africa) Director, Institute for Creative Arts, University of Cape Town
  • Paolo Petrocelli (Italy) Research Affiliate, metaLAB at Harvard
  • Cui Qiao (China) President, Beijing Contemporary Art Foundation
  • Matthias Röder, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at The Mindshift; Managing Director of the Eliette and Herbert von Karajan Institute
  • Magda Romanska (USA) Principal Researcher, metaLAB (at) Harvard
  • Adama Sanneh (ITA) Co-Founder and CEO, Moleskine Foundation
  • Anthony Sargent (UK) International Cultural Consultant
  • Jeffrey Schnapp (USA) Faculty Director, metaLAB (at) Harvard
  • Shain Shapiro (UK) Founder & CEO, Sound Diplomacy
  • Jean-Philippe Thiellay (France) President, Centre national de la musique
  • Shahrokh Yadegari (USA) Director, Sonic Arts Research and Development group at the University of California San Diego; Director, Initiative for Digital Exploration of Arts and Sciences at the Qualcomm Institute