Collaborative Virtual Reality for Tele-Immersive Interactive Theater

Transforming Storytelling: Multiuser Virtual Reality Theater for Collaborative Tele-Immersive Interaction

Daria Tsoupikova, Jo Cattell, Andrew Johnson
Arthur Nishimoto, Lance Long, Sai Priya Jyothula

Hummingbird is an ongoing project developing multiuser theatrical performances that merge real and virtual worlds with the goal of encouraging stronger theater engagement with tech-savvy younger audiences. The project bridges art, science and live theater through a collaborative research effort between computer science and design faculty and students at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) and Chicago’s Tony Award-winning Goodman Theatre, whose youth program works with Chicago’s diverse demographics of middle-grade and teenage youth. The project is being designed for the Goodman Theater New Stages 2020 showcasing experimental and ground-breaking theater works. Chicago youth will attend tele-immersive real-time performances that will run concurrently at the Goodman Theatre’s Alice Rapport Center and at the UIC/EVL Continuum, allowing for untethered social interaction and collaborative exploration of the plot lines through avatars and multiuser interaction. Hummingbird extends traditional live theater and makes virtual reality art accessible to a broader audience. It will demonstrate how virtual reality technology can be both an artistic and a storytelling medium integrated with a live theater performance.