Acting takes time, courage and a lifelong dedication that very few possess, and even less can do well. But as VR styles itself as an ‘experience machine’, it was inevitable that a program like Theatre VR would come along, a multi-player acting app that’s been seemingly ripped from the pages of Neal Stephenson’s novel The Diamond Age (1995).
The creators behind Theatre VR say the program will allow you to experience what it is like to be an actor. Giving you the choice of which play and role to engage in, you’re fed your lines and given the opportunity to interact with either AI-driven or real players.
Like in The Diamond Age from influential sci-fi author Neal Stephenson—who coincidentally is the Chief Futurist at mysterious AR startup Magic Leap—AI isn’t sufficiently convincing enough for users in virtual experiences, so troupes of actors play out the roles of NPCs to make the story more flexible and realistic.
The creators have made a functional demo that includes the last Hamlet scene—a fencing match between Hamlet and Laertes as they duel in front of Hamlet’s cousin, King Claudius, and Queen Gertrude. The demo, shown in the trailer above, represents six months of development, but the studio says plans are much more extensive, including a way to “connect to the audience.”
While still in prototyping, the studio says there are still a few months remaining until Theatre VR’s release. The creators haven’t shared a specific target platform yet, but it appears to have been designed for Steam VR headsets like HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and the soon to arrive Windows “Mixed Reality” VR headsets—just enough time for me to practice my ‘Original Pronunciation’ so Shakespeare’s plays actually rhyme correctly.