The augmented reality theater is bowing out. In your kitchen.


When the pandemic shut down UK performance venues in March 2020, Coffey accelerated plans to turn ‘All Kinds of Limbo’ into an at-home experience. The revamped version can be viewed via AR on a mobile device, via a VR headset, or on a regular computer. Brandon’s performance remains the same, but depending on the device used, the experience is slightly different.

To summon some of the theater’s shared intimacy, it is sold and broadcast live, although the show is recorded. The other people present virtually are represented by blades of white light in movement and, by playing with the settings, you can move around the space and see the action from different angles.

It’s a short piece, but “All Kinds of Limbo” feels like the glimmer of a new art form: somewhere between music video, video game and live cabaret show.

In recent years, the British theater scene has become a testing ground for similar experiments. Last spring, the Royal Shakespeare Company co-produced an immersive digital play called “Dream” which featured actors performing using motion capture technology and can be viewed via smartphone or computer. Other projects, such as shows by the Almeida Theater in London and the Dreamthinkspeak company in Brighton, England, require attendees to show up in person and don VR headsets.

Francesca Panetta, a virtual reality producer and artist who was recently appointed Curator of Alternate Realities at the Sheffield DocFest film festival, said in a video interview that practitioners of audio, gaming, theatre, television and other art forms were collaborating like never before. “A lot of people are trying to explore this space and figure out what it really is,” she said. “No one is really sure.”

One of the most anticipated partnerships is between immersive theater troupe Punchdrunk, which launched site-specific live shows such as “Sleep No More” and “The Masque of the Red Death” in the mid-2000s. and tech company Niantic, best known for the wildly successful AR game Pokémon Go.


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