If you’ve ever played a part in a theatre production, than you know that one of the first rules of any show is to keep the experience magical for the audience.
The play starts well before the play starts.
This means actors huddle back stage and are never seen outside of character or costume. Music sets the ambiance as people takes their seats while the set and lights create a starting point for their imaginations to start transitioning into another world.
Setting the Stage
The National Theatre in London recently launched their newest musical wonder.land, a modern Alice in Wonderland that explores the blurred lines between our online and offline lives. For the production, the Theatre decided to team up with Fifty Nine Productions and Play Nicely to create a VR experience that would transport audience members into wonder.land from the screenplay’s magic portal, the girl’s bathroom.
Naturally, the creators didn’t stop at developing a virtual experience within a headset. They did what they do best; they built a set for it. PCs and hardware to power Oculus Rifts were cleverly hidden in toilet seats while stage lighting and bathroom wall graffiti set the mood for what was to come.
Creating Magic in VR
Many VR creators have been looking to theatre to understand the best way to develop entertainment in a 360 degree space, but looking at the National Theatre’s first approach to VR, there are more lessons that can be learned from this beloved medium.
Directors and playwrights discovered a long time ago that creating an illusion starts with the stage. Its ambiance is the gateway from reality into another world. As we continue to create experiences in virtual reality, it will become more and more important for us to understand the best ways to transition a viewer from reality to VR in a way that allows them to feel like they are a part of the imaginary narrative.
If you find yourself in London, you can check out the National Theatre’s free digital exhibition fabulous wonder.land from now until April 30th or you can download the VR experience for any iPhone and iPad using the National Theatre Backstage App.