Morven Robinson is a Sheffield based actor who is participating in our R&D lab. Here are some of her thoughts on her experience at the Lab so far, and using VR/XR in the world of theatre.
"Watching two people move together and create imagery is emotive and interesting as it is, but putting this into VR opens up a entire other level of emotions. I think colours and music can change the atmosphere massively. Watching two shapes made up of the blue dots move around to the music was so emotional and instantly felt like it represented a very close bond or could have been a love story.
I think the blue was calming and the music helped to create the “love story” vibe. I feel given different movement and music you could create so many different worlds! Because you are watching the action been created live and the movement is caused by two people in front of you, it makes it so much more special in the VR headset world. So because its not pre-recoded its so exciting that its live in that world you are in. In your headset it feels like that movement is just for you, its very private.
Using the realistic elements of people in the VR can have different effects it can at times feel less private as they are so close. It can at times be quite invasive, but with the right piece of text I feel this would work! The images created by dots and movement work really well and still leave some of the imagination to the audience.
This type of medium opens so many ideas just been able to draw your own world in front of you is so therapeutic. I often go to the theatre to get away from stress and just relax. It always triggers thoughts and emotions and memories, I feel VR would offer so much stress realise and triggers to an audience as it can be very intimate and personal. Its something you experience on your own and in a way I think its good to be able to explore a new world or spectate watching something happening, alone.
Going off that, sometimes with VR you feel like you want to just stand back and spectate and other times you want to get involved and walk around. I feel it lends its self to many different audiences, because if the audience moved around it wouldn’t have to directly effect the actors. They could just explore this in their own time."
Kat Humphrey is an another actor participating in our lab. She is currently a full time student studying philosophy and has been a member the National Youth Theatre since 2015. Here’s an insight into her initial experiences in the lab.
“Today was the first time I've ever put a Virtual Reality headset on. VR is nothing like anything you have ever experienced before. There are no words to describe the experience. As Sean, the theatrical director, said, ‘it's how I imagine people reacted when the Internet first came out... No one knew how to explain it, so you just have to try it’.
The first time I went in the headset, I felt absolutely sick and claustrophobic - but it was the best feeling ever. I felt queasy because you lose vision of everything else, including your peripherals and own body. Who knows what could have been happening back in the real world?! When I tried to cover my eyes, nothing could escape the VR world other than shutting my eyes or taking the headset off... But I really didn't want to. When you do finally have to, you completely forget about the real world and how it looks. You forget that everything you see is being created merely 10 feet away from you.
At first we experimented being in the world and creating. We used "tilt brush" where you can draw endless designs in all different colours and textures. We got to explore pre-made sets by a professional tilt brush artist. I went into a desert set and I felt completely isolated and abandoned in this world and genuinely felt fear. This is such an interesting concept that our brains are so ingrained in the functions of -> see something scary -> body automatically projects -> feel fear.
We learnt there are so many factors to consider and elements to play with such as touching the subject, whilst watching an actor through the headset go to touch.”