When the pandemic shut down UK venues in March 2020, Coffey accelerated plans to turn “All Kinds of Limbo” into a home experience. The updated version can be viewed through AR on a mobile device, through a VR headset, or on a regular computer. Brandon’s performance stays the same, but depending on the device you’re using, the experience is slightly different.
To evoke some general affinity for the theatre, it is ticketed and broadcast live, although the show is being taped. Other people present virtually are represented by blades of moving white light and, playing with the settings, you can move around the space and watch what is happening from different angles.
It’s a short piece, but “All Kinds of Limbo” feels like a glimpse of a new art form: somewhere between a music video, a video game, and a live cabaret show.
Over the past few years, the British theater scene has become a testing ground for such experiments. Last spring, the Royal Shakespeare Company co-produced an immersive digital production called The Dream, in which the actors performed using motion capture technology and could be viewed on a smartphone or computer. Other projects, such as the Almeida Theater show in London and Dreamthinkspeak in Brighton, England, require attendees to come in person and be equipped with VR headsets.
Francesca Panetta, a VR producer and artist who was recently appointed curator of alternate realities at Sheffield DocFest, said in a video interview that practitioners of audio, games, theatre, television and other arts are collaborating like never before. “Many different people are trying to explore this space and understand what it really is,” she said. “No one is sure.”
One of the most anticipated partnerships is between the immersive theater company Punchdrunk, which pioneered live shows such as Sleep No More and The Mask of the Red Death in the mid-2000s, and technology firm Niantic. best known for his wildly successful augmented reality game Pokémon Go.