Prague theatres reopen via VR

Creative group Brainz Studios, together with the Prague City Hall, offers a service called Brejlando, which provides experimental theatre experiences to its spectators in virtual reality (VR). With the help of state-of-the-art technologies and VR glasses, everyone can immerse in watching selected performances from Prague theatres from the comfort of their homes, as well as from a completely new angle – right from the stage, in close vicinity to the actors. The service is intended to help theatres and their fans overcome current difficult times of limited operation. At the same time, the creators believe that they are establishing a new international trend that can become a permanent part of the theatres’ offer.

The combination of virtual reality and culture is not new in Czechia, which in recent years has pioneered several successful virtual reality projects, including experimental 360° musical experiences from the Brainz Studios.

The uniqueness of Brejlando lies primarily in the manner in which a virtual reality theatrical production is shot. “It’s not an online broadcast of a theatrical performance, but a staging experiment in virtual reality. It is really a new form of experience, or the transfer of information and energy between the actor and the spectator. In each performance, we try to find a special key for its transfer to a new and not yet explored medium, which offers many interesting opportunities,” explains Petr Hanousek, VR director and creative producer of Brejlando.

“Together with the theatre director, we’ll actually dismantle the existing work and rebuild it. Almost from the beginning. We shorten the text to approximately one hour of footage, divided into twenty-minute parts. We invent scenes to support the viewer’s 360-degree view as much as possible. In the same sense, we also totally change the choreography. For actors, it is a unique opportunity to play a theatrical role in a completely different concept, whereby they have to find a fine-line between the filmmaker’s and theatrical approach to the character”, explains Petr Hanousek.

The viewer looks at the scene through the eyes of a 360-degree camera. It is at the centre of everything, the actors move around it and play the scenes towards it. Lighting and surround sound recording are also set accordingly. Compared to a classic visit to the theatre, therefore the spectator has an essentially physical experience, as the actors direct their monologues and views directly at them. “During parallel acting events around the entire stage perimeter, then the spectator can choose what they want to watch at a given moment. So even if each viewer receives the same content in their glasses, the experiences of the two spectators will never be the same”, adds Petr Hanousek.

“Theatres have been closed for over a year. For this reason. we have been looking for ways to provide people with a theatrical experience. If spectators cannot go to the theatre, we’ll send the theatre to their homes. As far as I know, this is the global premiere of such an act. I believe that this innovative theatre concept will complement the cultural offer even at a time when the theatre halls are full of people again,” complements Hana Třeštíková.

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