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Future Stages, an Innovative Project by Brendan Bradley, is Producing Virtual Theatre Using Immersive Reality

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the world into a new order. It has visibly upended life as we knew it. At times like this, when government restrictions and social distancing protocols are still in force in a large part of the world, people are still in two minds about going to theatres. Not just the audiences are exposed to gathering while in the auditorium; the actors are also at risk for being in tight proximity with others on the stage. In situations like this, creators and producers are looking for alternative ways to keep their productions running and at the same time, looking for new forms of art and expression leveraging technology and new media.

With regard to immersive media, it is already an established fact that people are enjoying it to an unprecedented level. However, the question remains whether it can be utilized to produce virtual theatre? The answer to this question is YES! Brendan Bradley, an artist and new media enthusiast, can and is doing it with his new Future Stages project.

Conventional and digital media

Principally a screen and stage actor, Bradley is very much interested in digital media. According to him, it is when he started exploring YouTube back in 2007 that he found new media to hold immense potential for the future of entertainment. However, he says that he does not approach digital media as a new medium for art. Rather, he tries to find the similarity between conventional media and digital media, leveraging it for better reach.

Experiment

As soon as Bradley found some success on the digital platform as a live performer, he started to experiment with immersive media and virtual reality. He even contributed to the very first attempt to produce virtual theatre in collaboration with New York-based Virtual Theatre Studio in 2017. But when the pandemic hit the world, he decided that it was time to push the envelope some more. He stated that the unfortunate circumstance quite surprisingly came to him as a blessing. It gave him an opportunity to combine two of his most loved subjects: fine arts and interactive media.

First big challenge

The first big challenge in the way of producing virtual theatre was hardware compatibility. In an attempt to overcome this barrier, Bradley found the Pico Neo 2 VR headset. He remarks that as a standalone headset, Pico Neo 2 is heavier than most other headsets, yet it is well-balanced in a way that does not make the actors feel any fatigue. Through Bradley’s process, up to three performers can be put up in a single virtual stage at a time using VR headsets.

More than happy

Logan Parr, the Director of Western Marketing and PR at Pico Interactive said that he is more than happy to see Bradley using the headset to advance virtual theatre. He also said that it is quite exciting for the company to see how people are using their headsets to advance whatever operation or business they might be conducting. To that end, Bradley’s effort to take the technology into a new plane is both commendable and uplifting.

Bradley said that his effort is not just something to watch and enjoy but also a call for action. He believes that if he could do it, anyone and everyone can follow suit and innovate new avenues for virtual theatre.

 

 

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