THE SHOW MUST GO ON
Audiences enjoy theater experiences via AR and VR
The uses for augmented and virtual reality are growing as technology evolves, including functional ones such as VR employee training and fun ones like AR board games and dating apps. As more brands hop on the trend of theatrical consumer experiences, so too are companies expanding into AR and VR theater.
Israeli startup ARShow is taking augmented reality on stage by incorporating AR into live shows with real actors using technology that fully integrates with the operating system of a theater’s sound system, lighting, and projector. Theater-goers don AR headsets to take in the full effect, witnessing elements such as a massive cat playing with the actors or the actors running through a field of giant blades of grass. The system is in beta-testing at a theater in Tel Aviv for a children’s show adaptation of Gulliver’s Travels. Three in 10 Millennial parents think it’s important for their offspring to go to a kid-specific theater event, and ARShow’s Gulliver’s Travels sold out six months of performances in advance.
Oculus has used its VR capabilities for everything from working out to traveling, and it’s now developing an immersive theater experience to launch next year. The production will feature real life actors who perform via virtual reality; viewers join from the comfort of their own home using an Oculus Rift headset. Because the cast can react in real time, the performance can be interactive and is never quite the same twice, much like a VR version of NYC’s Sleep No More. The blend of an interactive experience, virtual reality, and the ability to participate from any location presents Oculus Rift as a unique entertainment option.
Rather than using virtual reality to allow an audience to watch a theater performance, Theater VR is using it to allow them to star in one. The program will allow users to jump into a production—the demo shows Shakespeare’s Hamlet—and experience what it feels like to be an actor. Players choose their role and can interact with the other characters, either driven by A.I. or played by other real people. For young consumers who want to be featured in pop culture to become stars in their own right, Theater VR is tapping into a trend only growing in popularity.