NEW YORK — The Tribeca Film Festival kicks of April 19th through the 30th and the festival’s virtual arcade, known as Storyscapes, includes To Be with Hamlet, a live theater performance of Hamlet conducted in VR in realtime. A multi-user platform — running on Nvidia GPU-powered systems — allows audience members see each other in this virtual space, creating an immersive theater experience.
John Gielgud, Mel Gibson, Bart Simpson - each has taken a turn as Shakespeare’s Hamlet. But while many have uttered the line “to be or not to be,” no one has given audiences the chance to be in the world of the play themselves, until now.
Javier Molina, an adjunct assistant professor of Integrated Digital Media at New York University, has created one of the first live performances of theater in virtual reality (VR). To Be with Hamlet joins VR experiences at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival Virtual Arcade. The performance focuses on the fifth scene of Act I, which begins with the encounter between Hamlet and his murdered father’s ghost. By using motion capture, multi-user VR and spatial audio technology, To Be with Hamlet lets audiences walk the battlements of Elsinore Castle. Audiences witness a live performance in realtime streamed to their HTC Vive VR headsets. And the multi-user platform lets audience members see each other in this virtual space, so they get an immersive theater experience.
“The power of presence is critical in a theater production where audiences view live performances in a communal setting,” Molina says. “Because the Nvidia GPUs provide the performance and fidelity required by VR, we don’t have to worry about the audience losing that feeling of presence.”
The VR storytelling techniques used in To Be With Hamlet will shed new light on the story of the prince of Denmark, Molina says. “By being present with Hamlet in his world, modern audiences can gain new insight into the beliefs and forces that shaped his fate,” Molina says.
How bold to bring us all into a play. About a play inside another.