Award-winning theatrical innovators The Performance Corporation will showcase their state-of-the-art Emperor 101 experience at the acclaimed tech/arts festival, premiering at the Dublin Theater Festival 2021. The production allows live performers to interact with audiences in virtual reality (VR ) and explore the explosion of online conspiracy theories and the parallel rise of far-right extremism. For this presentation, the performers will be in 2 separate countries, the server supporting the technology in another, and the audience in headsets in Austin.
This groundbreaking production is at the forefront of an emerging crossover between theater and virtual reality. The Performance Corporation is one of the first theater companies in the world to design and build a bespoke virtual world in which to stage a live virtual reality experience. In this VR space, live actors and audience inhabit avatars that allow them to interact and talk to each other in real time.
Speaking about the production, The Performance Corporation Artistic Director Jo Mangan said, “It’s incredibly exciting to be part of what we believe is a new beginning for theatre. I believe that by creating this kind of live and interactive performance in a specially designed virtual space, we can open up a wide range of new possibilities. We’re lucky to have an incredible team working on Emperor 101 to create this all-new experience for theater audiences and thrilled to bring it to the prestigious SXSW with the support of Cultural Ireland.”
The Performance Corporation believes pieces like Emperor 101 have huge potential and plans to further develop this digital genre in the future. The company envisions future live VR productions that would be available simultaneously to audience members in locations around the world, opening up new theatrical frontiers.
In the play, we meet a notorious conspiracy theorist who has built a virtual reality space to induct recruits into her organization. She wants her country back in time, but her own traumatic history threatens to destroy the movement she has built.
Emperor 101 immerses audiences in an alternate world that reflects the mind and motivations of a conspiracy theorist. At a time when the very notion of truth or fact is being questioned, the innovative use of virtual reality reflects the multiple realities or “bubbles” in which we live. of the “mainstream” is the product of fear, or the ultimate act of empowerment in a complex world.
Emperor 101 begins with an intimate in-person interaction with a live performer. The audience then puts on a virtual reality headset and is guided through a series of interactive environments. Here they experience live interaction with performer avatars. The story explores the inner life of a high-profile conspiracy theorist as she grapples with a personal tragedy that has turned the world upside down.
Cast: Caitríona Ní Mhurchú and Karl Quinn
Directed by Jo Mangan
Screenplay Tom Swift
Design Leon Butler and Peter Power
Camille Donegan, virtual reality producer
Immersive Media Studio RETinIZE
Produced by The Performance Corporation