VR-performance “In Search of the Author” united theater and cinema. As in immersive performances, the viewer becomes a direct participant in the action. Half of the performance is watched by the public wearing VR-glasses, and thus he/she turns out in various spaces shot in 360 ° format. This allows the viewer sitting on one spot to choose the foreshortening and the form of viewing individually watch the characters “mount” their own performance.
Arkhangelsk has got used to all sorts of experiments on the traditional theater stage and even to immersive performances do not cause surprise thanks to the Youth Theater. However, Viktor Panov, the artistic director of the theater, decided to completely discourage the Arkhangelsk viewer by bringing the youth theater center Kosmos from Tyumen as a participant in the international festival European Spring. At the center, in addition to the usual performances, the repertoire includes choreographic and plastic performances. They brought to Arkhangelsk their novelty – “In search of the author.”
As soon as you learn that the play is created using virtual reality technology it becomes very curious what and how it will happen. You gonna sit in glasses for an hour? Or what?
Organizers of the performance immediately immerse the viewer in a virtual and augmented reality. In front of the entrance to the hall you will find the mock-ups of the main characters in human growth and on their back side are the icons. If you have a mobile app you can scan them as QR code and go to the character’s personal page of the social network. Everyone has a profile, friends, status and posts on the wall. This approach allows you to familiarize yourself with the characters in advance, make your assumptions and even try to understand the logic of the character. Even in reality each of us enjoys certain social networks, the choice depends on the nature of the person, his/her hobbies and work.
The application also provides an opportunity to get acquainted with the history of the creation of the performance, some interviews and also play with the a duck as in the photo above.
Yes, it is worth to come to such a performance in advance, at least 20 minutes. However, the Youth Theater has long taught its viewer to such behavior.
In the room they give out VR-glasses and give instructions for their use: the red lights up – we put them on, the green one – we take them off. They warn that because of the displacements our belongings should be left in the hall, they will not go anywhere, and after the performance they can be taken away. “Are we going to walk around the hall wearing glasses?”, I thought. The light goes out, the video trailer of some kind of sentimental film is turned on the screen. You just get comfortable, prepare for a blockbuster, but the trailer ends the muted light turns on and we are asked to go to another space. We are exchanging glances with other viewers in perplexity: is it time to put on the glasses? Then it comes to us that we need to go to the room behind the screen where in fact the main action will take place.
There, in the center sits a young man with a cigarette drinks coffee and spins on a chair. Around it 30 more comfortable chairs for spectators are arranged. And then VR-performance begins. The thing is is that the video broadcast through the glasses complements the story of the characters, allowing you to peek into the depths of their subconscious. Whom it is – is unclear, the viewer thinks up him/herself.
In general, the entire performance is built on the imagination of the viewer. He/she is really free to look where he/she wants, spinning, thinking out and changing his/her mind. There is no single way of understanding “In search of the author”. Whether the author tries to create his own story. Whether the actors are able to do anything to get into the film. Whether they are revived in the head of the director characters.
Personally, I saw here a mixture of all theories: these are the author’s attempts to create his own story, his painful and long dialogue with them; these are attempts by the characters to attract the author’s attention to himself, to make himself the dominant hero of the story; it’s the story itself trying to develop on its own path. In this case, VR-glasses carry the viewer into the fictional world of heroes and in reality we see the pain of the author when writing a work.
The story is incredibly close to all creative people. No one bypasses the side shown in the performance. All this speaks for the complexity of direction and writing. To some extent, it even reveals the details hidden from a wide range of people about these professions, makes you think about the very dialogue with the text or video being created. And most importantly, the role and condition of the creator in this process.