The world of theatre has always captivated audiences with its live performances and the unique connection it establishes between actors and viewers. However, a new innovation has emerged, bridging the gap between traditional theatre and cutting-edge technology. Enter Box Office VR, a company that leverages virtual reality (VR) to revolutionize the theatrical experience. In this blog post, we will delve into the story of Box Office VR and its potential to expand the reach of theatres, create immersive experiences, and introduce new audiences to the magic of the stage.
Box Office VR:
Merging Theatre and Virtual Reality Founded by Kelman and Gemma Greig-Kicks, Box Office VR combines their expertise in filmmaking and touring theatre to bring the power of virtual reality to the stage. The couple aims to break barriers and offer a unique theatrical experience to untapped audiences. Their flagship production, “Smile,” centered around the life of renowned Dundee United manager Jim McLean, showcased the potential of VR in immersing the audience in the story.
The Immersive Experience:
For audiences to access Box Office VR, they need to purchase their own VR headset. The company has designed its platform to be compatible with affordable systems like Google Cardboard VR Glasses. By inserting their phone into the VR device, strapping on the cardboard goggles, and plugging in their headphones, viewers are transported into a 180-degree view of the stage and auditorium. This immersive experience allows them to feel like active participants, as demonstrated by Roberta Doyle’s unexpected encounter with a passionate tirade from Jim McLean during “Smile.”
Expanding the Reach of Theatre:
One of the primary goals of Box Office VR is to make theatre accessible to a wider audience. By utilizing virtual reality, the company aims to attract those who may not typically consider attending a live performance or face physical barriers in reaching a theatre venue. Although the platform has garnered only a small audience thus far, with approximately 100 people having downloaded a show through their platform, it has the potential to introduce theatre to a diverse range of individuals who may not have experienced it otherwise.
Overcoming Practical Constraints:
Box Office VR provides a unique opportunity for theatres to stage productions that might otherwise be impractical due to size or cost constraints. By recording performances and making them available through VR headsets, regional and financially constrained theatres can gain exposure and additional revenue. Established theaters like Sadler’s Wells dance theater in London and the York Theatre Royal have already experimented with this technology, showcasing its potential for the industry as a whole.
The integration of VR in theatres also presents exciting prospects in education. Lisa Kilbride, a drama teacher at Monifieth High School in Dundee, has incorporated Box Office VR into her teaching toolkit. By introducing her students to the immersive world of theatre, she cultivates a love for the art form among young minds. The VR headsets generate excitement, offering students a chance to explore and discuss various elements such as lighting, sound, and set design. This engaging approach not only enhances their understanding of theatre but also removes geographical barriers for students in rural areas.
Impact and Emotional Connections:
The impact of Box Office VR extends beyond education and accessibility. Liam Sinclair, the business manager at the Dundee Rep, acknowledges that early exposure to theatre can shape careers and ignite passion. In the case of “Smile,” the VR performance evoked profound emotions in Jim McLean’s living relatives, who felt as if the late manager was present in the room. This personal and intimate connection demonstrates the unique power of VR in evoking emotions and creating lasting memories.
As technology continues to advance, the integration of virtual reality in theatres opens up new possibilities for the industry. Box Office VR’s innovative approach brings theatre to audiences who may have previously been inaccessible, and it has the potential to revolutionize the way we experience live performances. By combining the magic of theatre with the immersive capabilities of VR, this platform introduces a new generation to the wonders of the stage, sparks creativity and discussion, and creates unforgettable memories. Whether it’s making theatre financially viable for regional venues or inspiring a young student’s passion for the arts, Box Office VR represents a promising intersection of technology and creativity in the world of theatre.