The Under Presents is back with a brand new story.
The Under Presents blends VR technology with the art of live performance to deliver a unique theatrical experience where you and a handful of participants take part in a live show alongside professional actors.
Half-scripted, half-improv, each show has audience members taking the “stage” and participating in the story. There’s quite a bit of ad-libbing involved, but thanks to a combination of smart writing and skilled acting, the shows never seems to derail from the established narrative.
This week Tender Claws, the award-winning independent studio behind The Under Presents, announced that it is bringing its popular live VR experience back for a limited run beginning on Friday, April 1st. The latest show is centered around a narrative-driven mystery set in a strange world that exists in a special dimension outside of time and space. In addition to following along with the story, you’ll also have the opportunity to explore the world on your own.
Players can jump in with their own curiosities and traverse through hours of single-player gameplay with the option of connecting with other people. If you’re lucky, you might even come across one of several live actors roaming the world in character.
VRScout met up with Deirdre Lyon, one of the actors from The Under Presents, during SXSW. Lyon was there as a speaker and promoting her live VR theater show Gumball Dreams, during which she explained her excitment surrounding VR theater: “It’s a whole new genre that everyone is exploring and a nut that Tender Claws has cracked. The live connection is what makes it special and why we have such loyal fans.”
In The Under Presents, Lyon plays several characters throughout the show: “I bring to life Amelia Earhart, Theordore the Thespian, Francine DeMilo, Crustacea – The Crob King’s Spiritual Advisor, Mabel Moreno aka The High Priestess of Eon and I will be introducing a new character, Rene Round – another office Jazzercise instructor. And don’t ask me to pick my favorite because that would be tantamount to choosing a best-loved child. I have one, but I will never say it aloud. Other actors have about as many characters, it can be crowded in The Under.”
Along with Lyon, Tender Claws employed the help of several of the original cast for this limited engagement, including Brandon Bales, Michael Bates, Karlie Blair, Sophie Cooper, James Cowan, Whitton Frank, Genevieve Flati, Stephanie Hyden, Dasha Kittredge, Terence Leclere, Haylee Nichele, Kelly Pierre, Soren Royer-McHugh, and Katelyn Schiller.
If you’ve never experienced live VR theater, it is truly something magical. I myself have participated as an ad-lib actor in shows such as Tempest, Dr. Crumb’s School for Disobedient Pets, and just recently I was part of The MetaMovie Presents Alien Rescue. Performing in VR was a blast and I would absolutely recommend you jumping in to find out for yourself.
From Lyon’s perspective as an actor, live VR theater is a unique experience unlike any other medium. “The actor’s experience inside The Under Presents is special in its temporal nature. It is a sandcastle, with grand spires and delicate arches, to be washed away when the time tides eventually come back in,” said Lyon.
According to Lyon, these types of live performances are special because they allow audiences to participate in outrageous stories that are difficult, or downright impossible, to replicated in the real world: “They will do more than watch, they will participate, collaborate, make friends, and become part of a community that is full of wonder and joy.”
To check out The Under Presents or inquire about being part of their live theater, download the app for the Meta Quest here. You can also score some sweet original merch here.
Image Credit: Tender Claws