Prague Invites Spectators Back into Theatres Through Virtual Reality
The combination of virtual reality and culture is not new in the Czech environment. In recent years, Czechia has become famous for several successful virtual reality projects. One of them is the creation of experimental 360° musical experiences from the Brainz Studios, which also attracted the attention of Hana Třeštíková, Councillor for Culture and Tourism in the Capital City of Prague, Councillor Třeštíková states that “Virtual reality offers endless possibilities to take the spectator practically anywhere and give them the feeling that all events are happening around them and only for them. That’s why we joined forces with the Brainz Studios creative group, the Czech leader through these technologies, on behalf of Prague, and in the Brejlando project we bring a new dimension to the great cultural content of our city theatres”.
The uniqueness of Brejlando lies primarily in the manner in which a virtual reality theatrical production is shot. “It’s not an online broadcast of a theatrical performance, but a staging experiment in virtual reality. It is really a new form of experience, or the transfer of information and energy between the actor and the spectator. In each performance, we try to find a special key for its transfer to a new and not yet explored medium, which offers many interesting opportunities”, describes Petr Hanousek, the VR director and creative producer of Brejlando.
“Together with the theatre director, we’ll actually dismantle the existing work and rebuild it. Almost from the beginning. We shorten the text to approximately one hour of footage, divided into twenty-minute parts. We invent scenes to support the viewer’s 360-degree view as much as possible. In the same sense, we also totally change the choreography. For actors, it is a unique opportunity to play a theatrical role in a completely different concept, whereby they have to find a fine-line between the filmmaker’s and theatrical approach to the character”, explains Petr Hanousek.
The viewer looks at the scene through the eyes of a 360-degree camera. It is at the centre of everything, the actors move around it and play the scenes towards it. Lighting and surround sound recording are also set accordingly. Compared to a classic visit to the theatre, therefore the spectator has an essentially physical experience, as the actors direct their monologues and views directly at them. “During parallel acting events around the entire stage perimeter, then the spectator can choose what they want to watch at a given moment. So even if each viewer receives the same content in their glasses, the experiences of the two spectators will never be the same”, adds Petr Hanousek.
Brejlando starts with a recording of the Hamlets of the Na Zábradlí Theatre (directed by Jan Mikulášek) and Perníková chaloupka (Hans and Gretel) of the Minor Theatre (directed by Jakub Vašíček, Tomáš Jarkovský). Twice monthly, more productions will be added to the offer. For example, Elefantazie (Elephantas) by David Drábek from the Municipal Theatres of Prague, the play Pusťte Donu k maturitě! (Let Donna go to the Graduation!) directed by Tomáš Dianiška from the repertoire of the Pod Palmovkou Theatre or a theatrical adaptation of the famous film Ucho (The Ear) of Jan Procházka, presented by the Theatre in Vinohrady directed by Šimon Dominik. A number of other Prague scenes have already expressed interest in participating in the project. Therefore, the service becomes a full-fledged distribution platform that is not only open to Prague’s city theatres.
“Theatres have been closed for over a year. For this reason. we have been looking for ways to provide people with a theatrical experience. If spectators cannot go to the theatre, we’ll send the theatre to their homes. As far as I know, this is the global premiere of such an act. I believe that this innovative theatre concept will complement the cultural offer even at a time when the theatre halls are full of people again,” complements Hana Třeštíková.