Towards a Virtual Theater

Date and time
22 September — Saturday
Theatre Institute in Warsaw

Towards a Virtual Theater

For over two millennia, societies have created theater as a space to engage the communal imagination. New technologies have borrowed from theater to create new narrative and experiential media; and theater has adopted those new technologies to expand its range of expression and reach. The technology of Virtual Reality is now ready for this symbiosis. While originally adopted by filmmakers, more and more VR creators are recognizing that the techniques of theatrical storytelling are highly applicable to VR. At the same time, theatrical creators are beginning to explore VR as another tool to transport audiences into the worlds of our stories.

This workshop will introduce virtual reality as a tool for theatrical creators, beginning with a discussion of what VR and theater have in common and then an examination of three recent case studies of Virtual Reality productions by theater artists: To Be With Hamlet, Holojam in Wonderland, and G.E.N. VR.

We will look at the motivations behind the productions, the process by which they were created, the technical workflow and challenges, and the main lessons learned. This will include a comparison between production for VR using 3d computer graphics versus 360 video; and different approaches to presentation. Among the technical details we will look specifically at sound as a key component of the immersive experience, and some of the tools for working with that. We will discuss how VR can be used effectively, and what it’s not good for; the current state of the technology and what’s coming in the near future; and how to apply what theatrical artists know to working with the VR medium.

We will also do a demonstration with live performers in a virtual space, and look at some aspects of performance technique in VR using current affordable motion-tracking technology, and discuss how different technology may affect what actors will be able to do. This will give a taste of the workflow for creating a communal performance experience in vr: the technical requirements and considerations, and aesthetic approaches to overcome the current constraints imposed by the technology.

By the end of the workshop, participants will have an appreciation of the range of possibilities virtual reality offers to theatrical creators, and a sense of the practical challenges and constraints imposed by today’s VR technology.

This workshop is particularly geared towards professional theatrical creators from all departments: writers, producers, directors, designers, technicians and performers.

Multimedia and film creators and interactive storytellers are also welcome.

Towards a Virtual Theater workshop will be conducted by: David Gochfeld, New York University; Grzegorz Jarzyna, TR Warszawa; Marcin Łunkiewicz,; sound designer Marta Gospodarek

⟿ The organiser will accept participants based on the application form; space is limited. The chronological order of applications is not binding. Participation does not require accreditation or a Digital Cultures carnet. The workshop is free of charge.

David Gochfeld
New York University
Grzegorz Jarzyna
TR Warszawa
Marta Gospodarek
Sound Designer