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How Technology Is Augmenting Traditional Theater

While theater has been using all sorts of effects—from lighting to sound—for hundreds of years to make the experience more immersive for the audience, new pioneering technologies offer a unique way of adding an extra dimension to performances. 

The theater industry is experimenting with immersive technologies, including virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) to see how these new mediums can take the art form in new directions. 

Here are some of the companies pushing the boundaries in this space.

National Theatre

Since the opening night of Hamlet starring Peter O'Toole on 22 October 1963, London’s National Theatre has produced well over 800 plays. Each year since, the National Theatre has staged over twenty new productions and there are over 1,000 performances every year.

In 2016, the NT launched its Immersive Storytelling Studio to explore how virtual and augmented reality could feature in productions to enhance the audience experience. The most recent use of the tech saw the NT partner with Accenture to create a VR experience to accompany All Kinds of Limbo. The experience is an exploration of the music genres of the British Caribbean community via 360-degree video—users can watch the main performer from any angle.