The VR Theater celebrates the rise of storytelling in a new and emerging medium by showcasing the best virtual reality in short-form narratives. Program Content.
In the 21st century, massive technological improvements have allowed the technology to flourish extremely. Well, known systems these days are the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, the Samsung Gear VR, the Playstation VR and many more.
Now, what does all of this have to do with theatres and how can cultural institutions and performing art centers use VR to offer users an exciting experience? There are a number of interesting cases available.
The Royal Shakespeare Company has partnered up with Intel for instance. Director Gregory Doran wanted to turn The Tempest into a one of a kind visual experience. They worked with Intel for over 2 years to bring a virtual character on stage. An actor was outfitted with a motion captor suite and his movements recorded for many different characters. The outcome is very spectacular; see for yourself:
59 productions, a company that has won a few Tony Awards, used virtual reality to advertise My Name is Peter Stilmann, an adaptation of City of Glass by Paul Auster. The plot of the play lends itself to VR because it deals with different realities. So, it made sense to set up a booth in the foyer of a Manchester theater, where people could immerse themselves into the narrative of the play.
Across the pond, in New York City, a young adjunct professor at NYU Tandon School of Engineering by the name of came up with an unusual VR performance of Hamlet. The play is based on Janet Murray’s book Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. Murray holds the theory that ‘storytelling evolves alongside new technology.’
Theatre always has been an early adopter of new technology, and we very naturally enjoy the extended possibilities of storytelling that video, to name the most common, brought to the stage. In the same way, VR and AR should be tested and examined instead of ignored or feared. Hamlet will not lose his power to touch our minds and hearts – and probably he will do it much more intensively.
This article originally appeared in European Theatre Lab on June 28th, 2017 and has been reposted with permission.