Following their debut Zoom production Murder at Mandai Camp, Sight Lines Entertainment is back for a brand new project this August. Teaming up with local e-ticketing and live-streaming startup Xctuality, Sight Lines will be introducing an immersive experience combining virtual reality (VR) and 360° streaming, bringing traditional theatre performances online and promoting them to new, international audiences.
“Moving forward, the big question is: does it make economic sense for theatre companies to invest in a stage production when safe distancing measures would ultimately reduce capacity and, in turn, their revenue? We sought to pioneer an alternative for the performing arts by engaging the latest technology to overcome current and future hurdles on an international scale,” explains Derrick Chew, Executive Producer of Sight Lines Entertainment.
With years of experience in events such as the Slush Singapore, F1 Singapore Grand Prix, Streats Food Festival, and the upcoming National Day Parade 2020, Xctuality has emerged as one of the hottest events management solutions providers in the region. E-ticketing and smart event solutions aside, founders Warren Woon and Adrian Oliveiro offer an in-development live-streaming platform. The latter aims to be a brand new interactive “stage” for digital theatrical productions. Prior to this, Xctuality has also worked with musicians in a similar capacity, to make their streams available and accessible online.
While various companies have attempted to go digital by completely changing their medium, be it via livestreams or Zoom, Sight Lines aims to rediscover the allure of connectivity gained from being physically present at a production, something they hope to create with this new initiative. With Xctuality’s help, Sight Lines hopes to be able to customise VR and 360° streaming with the option for choice-based narratives for producers. This allows theatre companies to transport audiences straight into the theatre and their fantastical productions with the tap of a button.
Essentially a means of experiencing theatre without being in the theatre itself, in their minds, this new augmented theatrical experience will take audience members on a journey, from the moment they enter the theatre to a talkback session with the director backstage. Not only will this cater to audiences purchasing tickets limited by new seating capacities, this will also include experiences that audiences attending the physical show might not have access to.
For instance, virtual audiences attending a live performance at the Victoria Theatre can begin their journey in the courtyard, where they can admire its neoclassical architecture. Pre-show entertainment will include a live chat with the Front of House manager and other patrons, interactive displays relaying information on the production, and jumping backstage for a behind the scenes look. The performance will allow navigation to the best vantage points, such as from the stalls, mezzanine, on-stage, for a unique and immersive theatrical experience, allowing audiences to change their point of view at any point in time, and allowing them to get unprecedented up-close looks at the performers onstage.
“We want to bring audiences straight into the performances in a visceral way, one that a typical 2-dimensional stream has not quite achieved. Tech should be an enabler, not a hindrance. It’s not just about elevating the live-streaming experience, but creating an entirely new genre of entertainment,” explains Woon, co-Founder of Xctuality.
This digital stage will also allow theatre companies to create new art-making processes and experiment with new theatrical experiences as the performing arts community evolves along with the technology. Besides the ability to customise VR and 360° views to each individual production, there’s also the option of implementing augmented reality in the future. Theatre companies also then have the option to film productions in a blackbox or a studio with less economic strain, with the major bonus of a potentially unlimited audience, on top of filming live performances in a traditional theatre setting. With this in mind, Sight Lines and Xctuality also hope that this gives arts companies an opportunity to market their work to an international audience, along with offering room for experimentation for greater immersion.
Theatre companies also need not worry about the cost of hiring Sight Lines and Xctuality’s service, as they claim that the costs incurred are unlikely to exceed that of hiring a company to provide archival footage. As an all-in-one solution, the options are endlessly customisable according to each production’s needs, and the companies are in the midst of adapting it for immersive productions and outdoor use, with the hope of going live by the fourth quarter.
“As a team, we aim to encourage a new genre of theatre, a new genre of art and to encourage a new form of entertainment that will engage audiences that have otherwise been unable to connect with traditional theatre,” says playwright Chong Tze Chien, of Sight Lines Entertainment. “We see this as a way of helping companies monetise their events, to sell tickets, and the beauty of it all is how going virtual like this allows our usual two week productions a longer lifespan. The world is your oyster.”
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