#1015: Blending Immersive Theater with Social VR & VRChat Worldbuilding with “Welcome to Respite”

The Severance Theory: Welcome to Respite is a VR adaptation of an immersive theatre piece of the same name originally produced in 2019 by CoAct Productions founder Lyndsie Scoggin. Immersive theatre & VR performer Deirdre Lyons did some voice work on the original production, and helped to translate the production into VRChat along with other members of the The Ferryman Collective. There’s a lot of unique affordances of VR that this production leverages including unique worldbuilding, customized shaders, the ability to take people on a spatial journey, and having intimate one-on-one improv moments with the two actors and the protagonist interactor/audience member. There’s also more passive, invisible ghost observer audience members who are able to locomote around the space to watch the story unfold.

Welcome to Respite originally premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in June 2021, showed at Venice VR Expanded in September, the Kaohsiung Film Festival in October, and is currently showing at the Raindance Immersive Festival with a run from October 28th to November 21st (tickets are still available here.)

I had a chance to speak with the four Ferryman Collective members about their production during their World Premiere at Tribeca in June including Andy Aloisio / Joker (VR World Building, Programming), Braden Roy (Co-founder of Ferryman Collective, VR Adaptation, Performer, and Producer), Whitton Frank (Performer, Marketing), & Brian Tull (VR Adaptation, Producer, Worldbuilder). We talk about the evolution of the project, how they integrated the various influences from immersive theatre, some of their design inspirations from Tenderclaws’ The Under Presents and Finding Pandora X, and the worldbuilding and design process for adapting this piece into a piece of immersive VR theatre.


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Music: Fatality

Rough Transcript

[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye, and welcome to The Voices of VR Podcast. So in today's episode, I'm going to be doing a deep dive into some of the intersections between immersive theater and social VR applications like VRChat. One of the latest productions in VRChat that premiered back at Tribeca, was shown at Venice, and is also showing right now during the Raindance Film Festival is called The Severance Theory, Welcome to Respite. So this is an experience that actually uses a lot of the affordances of virtual reality as a medium to start to blend together this kind of one-on-one interactions within an immersive theater context. So lots of really innovative onboarding, offboarding, the way that they're using the technology, but also had a chance to sit down with four of the different creators of this Ferryman Collective to be able to unpack their creative process, as well as some of the different challenges they have with trying to integrate these different technologies within VRChat. but also all the benefits they have for being able to build on top of this social VR platform, and how they're able to take a lot of the underlying affordances of immersive theater in general, and how they're able to do a production that would not even be possible if they were to actually produce it. Kind of like this distributed production that is not centralized into any one geographic location. So lots of really interesting insights about not only their process of creating it, but also these larger trends of this confluence of immersive theater, as well as with these social VR platforms. So that's what we're covering on today's episode of the Voices of VR podcast. So this interview with Andy, Brayden, Witten, and Brian happened on Sunday, June 13th, 2021. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.

[00:01:45.152] Andy Aloisio: My name's Andy Aloisio. In game, I'm known as Joker. In the metaverse, I'm known as Joker. For this team, I've done programming. working with VR Chats SDK 3 programming functionality to support the actor's use of the world that we use and also just some of the audience experience.

[00:02:02.440] Braden Roy: I am Braden Roy. I am one of the co-founders of Ferryman Collective. And on this specific project, I worked on VR adaptation. I'm a performer, producer, and I have my hands in a little bit of everything.

[00:02:15.673] Whitton Frank: Hi, I'm Witten Frank, and I'm a member of the Ferryman Collective. Previously, I worked with Tender Claws on The Under Presents and The Tempest. I am a performer in Welcome to Respite, and then I also do a lot with marketing and interviews and outreach.

[00:02:34.960] Brian Tull: I am Brian. I am a founder of Ferryman Collective that handled the VR adaptation of Welcome to Respite. I am also a producer on the show and a world builder on the show.

[00:02:45.177] Kent Bye: Right. So I know that a number of you have different connections to either the technology side and the theater side and the intersection between theater and VR. But I know that this piece in particular was originally an immersive theater piece by Lindsey Srogins and She's not here right now, but maybe on her behalf, describe her project, the original immersive theater version of this piece, and then how it came to be that you did a VR adaptation of this piece within the context of what's happening now, which is the Tribeca Film Festival.

[00:03:15.975] Braden Roy: Sure. The Severance Theory Welcome to Respite was originally an in-person immersive theater production that was put together by Co-Act Productions, Lindsay Scoggin, Peyton Ackerman, Daniel Levesque, and Kelly Pierre, which was very similar. However, there was, of course, many differences due to the affordances of VR and the affordances of doing something in real life. It had a single audience member go through as Alex and had kind of a similar journey to what we have today in the VR version. However, there was a good amount of modifications, things that leveraged what we can do in VR versus what can be done in real life. was originally going to move on to part two and part three and part four in real life, but then of course the pandemic happened. And Deirdre Lyons, which worked with them on that and actually provided the voice acting for the shadow in that piece originally, approached them after the Ferryman Collective had produced Pera and Krampusnock and kind of wanted to get into the side of VR production, which hasn't been focused on too much, which is the kind of interpersonal connection and presence that you can have where you can feel very seen and emote and have a feeling of connection emotionally to someone else. So she approached Lindsay and said, you know, I think that this would work very well in VR. And at that time, Lindsay didn't even have a headset, but she got one. We got her through crop stock and she loved it. And we kind of just hit the ground running from there in January.

[00:04:51.877] Kent Bye: Okay. Well, I first got into VR and like January 1st, 2014, but as actually three years prior in October, 2011, that I happened to be in New York city and saw Sleep No More. And so it was seven months into its initial run. But when I got into VR, I sort of had that as a context of this immersive theater modality. And I know that a lot of what work that you're working here is kind of blending of those two different communities. I know there's no Nelson and no proscenium and that's really covering a lot of this immersive space. And Witten, I know that you were a part of The Under Presents, which, you know, I saw at Sundance in 2019, the very early phases before it had launched later that year in November. And then they did The Under Presents Tempest. And then there's been a number of different projects that have been looking at this intersection over the last number of years. So I'd be curious to hear a little bit more background for each of you and your context as to like how you're oriented into this and these intersections to see for each of you, this fusion of these two communities that are coming together.

[00:05:48.197] Brian Tull: For my part, it's been really wild. Actually, I started as a reviewer of Hans horror immersive theater. for Horror Buzz back in 2015, I want to say. And I'd gotten into VR prior to that. I was really into the whole development kit one of the Oculus. I didn't have it because I didn't have the money for it at the time. My first headset was an HTC Vive. But I was back over in the Orange County tech meetup groups where a lot of the early tinkerers were playing around with things, going into the conference rooms and seeing a lot of these early DK1 demos. And then so I was kind of involved with that world to the capacity I could be. And then I was writing about immersives and haunts for Horror Buzz and meeting a lot of these people that I'm now in an association with, Deirdre Lyons. She's an immersive performer out here in Los Angeles. So I'd seen a number of her shows prior to The Under Presents ever being a thing. And then I just see on Facebook one day that there's this new VR experience that is starring a lot of the immersive performers that I knew from the local immersive theater. community. So that was just absolutely, it felt like a fever dream. I was like, did I die at some point? And this is some sort of purgatory or heaven? I don't know. So I got really involved with that, which was just an absolutely amazing experience that I don't know when we'll ever see again. Just this 14 hour a day, immersive world where actors just pop in and out. Just a fantastic experience that Tender Plus put together. But then yeah, as that experience was winding down as like, what are we going to do with ourselves? We saw a show that Deirdre was in, Finding Pandora X, that was also in VRChat, and then I approached Brayden and I was like, well, they're doing theater and VR, we're probably not going to be able to do very much with the month or two we had before October, but you want to put together a dinky little haunt and just have a little fun with some friends? And we did that, and Deirdre got on board, and then the visibility raised, certain animators got on board. And once that was somewhat successful, it was like, I want to do another one. And then that led into what we're doing now, and it's really taken off.

[00:07:55.602] Braden Roy: Yeah, I'll use that as a jumping off point, because there's a lot of crossover. Yeah, I got my start in VR very early. I think I was backer number like 50 for the original Oculus DK1. Managed to get my first name as a username rather than Braden1234 or whatever. And had a lot of interest prior to that, but that was the first moment when the modern era of VR kind of started to get going. My background is, well, I went to school for film production, fine arts, and computer science, which is a rather odd combination, but I chose that because I wanted to get into game design and development, and there's nowhere near me that provides those services. And then afterwards, ended up getting into IT, where I'm now a systems architect for financial service, which is completely unrelated to this. However, I kind of always had eyes on it. My plan was to be doing this sort of thing. And in terms of immersive theater, I'm based in South Dakota. So it had always been on my radar, like reading articles and think pieces about things like sleep no more. But it just simply wasn't in the cards. being a hyper-localized type of performance where you essentially need to be in one of several metropolitan areas in order to take them in. And that's actually something that really excites me about what we're doing today in the fact that you can be anywhere so long as you have an internet connection in the headset. And then, as Brian had said, we went and saw Finding Pandora X and were like, hey, let's do something. It was originally supposed to be a 10 minute piece. And then I wrote like 40 pages of script and we went from there. We had Witten on board along with some others from the under presents, which of course was also hugely influential. I'm a very active in the community there actually within the under presents itself. I was a canonically elected mayor, which is kind of goofy, but yeah, it's just kind of went from there. Been a roller coaster.

[00:09:57.207] Whitton Frank: I have a pretty much straight up theater background. Went to undergrad at Carnegie Mellon University and graduate school at Lambda in London. So when I auditioned for The Under Presents, it was actually my first foray into immersive theater. and kind of happened by chance. So I really had no idea what to expect. And of course, this wasn't just immersive theater. It was a whole different level of it. I think I had played around maybe three or four years ago with a friends VR setup. There was one game where I think you bounced around on trees, and that was kind of the big exciting thing. So it really was a trial by fire, but an enjoyable fire. And doing The Under Presents, I think, showed not only the team, but I don't think it's going too far to say the world at large, just what was possible with theater in VR. I think there was a lot of concern about connection, intimacy, would it be effective? Would people feel emotional connection? And I think the answer was a resounding yes. as Braden and Brian and Andy can tell you because they were there for it and participated in it. And it was incredible to watch this community grow in support of it and to realize how important, especially during this crazy time, those connections were and that they weren't lesser or lacking or any less meaningful. And in fact, in some ways, because of the timing, perhaps they were slightly more meaningful because you suddenly had the focus of a theatrical personality directed. It's why one-on-one theater is so good. You have all of that directed at you, and it's just as effective even through a VR headset, which I think people just didn't expect or even believe was possible. And then, of course, Samantha creating The Tempest, which sort of took it a little bit less away from just interpersonal reaction and connection to a more theatrical direction, but really set the standard for that and showed people that when you have the funding and the backing to do so, the sky's the limit, literally. And in VR, even more than that, the universe is the limit. And I was very flattered when Deirdre asked me even to be a part of this small little para-haunt. And I was like, well, I don't know. Could be fun. And we started there. And it was like, oh, OK. But now we learned our lessons. And then it grew from there. And Deirdre and I had started writing another Shakespearean VR experience. And then she invited me to come on the Ferryman Collective team and be a part of Welcome to Respite, which has been just an absolute thrilling ride. And getting to work with so many talented people, I think that's really been a big part of this. So many of these worlds, technology, theater, they can seem, and the industry in general, can seem very closed. if you don't have celebrity connections, if you don't have a ton of money. But VR, because at the moment, it's really that wonderful Wild West space. It's anyone's game, and it's the first people to step up and really grab the, I'm using Western metaphors, the bull by the horns, as it were, right? And I think that's what we are endeavoring to do. Cool.

[00:13:29.092] Andy Aloisio: So yeah, I'll talk a little bit about my path to where we are right now. I started in the VR world with Rec Room back in 2018. I started creating content for Rec Room. They have a user generated content community. I took a windy path doing a bunch of stuff there and ended up at about the same time doing two things. One was I worked for Rec Room on a contract basis in the community team. So I was involved in the community, but more importantly, I got involved in a group in Rec Room called the Orange Bucket Acting Troop. They are amateurs, frankly, talented people, but amateurs. who put together a couple of productions. Back in 2018, they did a Rec Room VR adaptation of The Princess Bride. I wasn't involved in that because I hadn't been playing yet. But then more recently, they did an adaptation of, really more of a parody of Back to the Future, set in the Rec Room universe. It was called Back to the Rec Center. I supported them in that. And then in 2020, it must have been? Yeah, sometime mid-2020, a big event happened I guess before anything else, I was also involved in the, the underpercents. Um, thanks to a good friend of mine and coworker rec rooms. Uh, his name is Adam. He went around sort of evangelizing the under presents saying like, look, this is really cool. This is interesting for people who are real. If you're an enthusiast, come check this out. I was interested. I checked it out. I was so glad I saw Tempest a couple of times and spent plenty of time in the under presents universe. And then sometime in, I guess it was late, late-ish 2020 in the rec room community, they had rec con. which was a virtual convention that just did all the things that, you know, an online convention is supposed to do. Brought people with similar interests together to talk about stuff. There were panels, there was networking, there were events. One such event was hosted by these folks. They came to talk about Krampusnacht and there was some discussion about the VR live theater, what was being built in the sort of immersive universe. It didn't know much about it, but that was the point of sort of collision of my world and also just the people involved in our Orange Bucket acting troupe. We just sort of got connected up with, we had some of these folks in to see the production of Back to the Rec Center, which was running at that time. Connections were made and I kept in contact. And then as I moved on to building content for VRChat, I just kept in contact with these folks and made my way into contributing. Before The Under Presents and before Krampus Noct, I saw Krampus Noct when it was running as well, which is about the same time as Back to the Rec Center. But before that, I didn't have any experience with immersive theater. Obviously at Orange Bucket Acting Troupe and Back to the Rec Center, there was an audience and a stage and the players were on the stage, but the audience didn't participate. The Under Presents and Krampus Noct and later Finding Pandora X were actually my very first introduction to immersive theater in general, which I didn't actually realize I'd never had cause to think about in real life or in VR. So this has been a exposure to that culture and medium for me. But yeah.

[00:16:27.273] Kent Bye: Yeah, well, that's a really good cross section of the evolution of immersive theater and VR. And I've got some other interviews sort of digging into some of these other pieces, you know, like finding Pandora X and Kira Benzing and what she did with Love's Heat. But the thing that I also passed last year in the pandemic, Maria from Raindance had invited me to come be a judge for a lot of these VR chat worlds. And I think that was a turning point for me, at least in terms of my relationship to the VR chat community, because I ended up exploring through the devouring and some of these other pieces that were not necessarily like immersive theater, but they had gaming elements, like from the prefabs community of VRChat, being able to add more coding and more aspects of interactivity. And within VRChat, you're already using Unity on top of that, you're doing all the special SDKs within VRChat. So it's kind of like you have to navigate what kind of things you can do on all the abstractions on top of abstractions and limitations of each of these layers. But I came across Deirdre and did some world hopping with her, and then she invited me to the Krampus. I had a chance to see that. So before, I guess, we dive into the nuances of where that ended up in terms of Welcome to Respite, maybe getting a bit more context as to your first forays into doing some of these immersive theater pieces within VRChat, and then what you took from that to feed into this latest production.

[00:17:41.451] Braden Roy: Well first it's important to establish that for our first two productions we're on a very tight timeline. We kind of chose to first get started with Halloween so we had a month and change to get going, get experience, get our feet wet in a handful of different arenas which We had variable levels of experience previously. There wasn't time for a whole lot of ideation. It was kind of, we need to hit the ground running now. And it was a successful experience the first time around. We had a good script, we had a good world, and people enjoyed it, and it was fun. We had a great cast. And at that point, we came off of it and had internal discussions saying, this was a success. This was a trial run. By all rights, we should not have been able to do this in this period of time, but we did it and it was a success. So should we make our next thing take a little bit more time to have a little bit more nuance with the next one? But then we decided to pick another holiday. So we had to get going real fast on that as well. But we did have a bit more time and we had experience under our belt. So we were able to get a whole lot more nuance and mechanical and visual complexity into Crop and Snot script. We were able to iterate on that with the world. There was a lot more iteration and flourishes. And with that, we had kind of built our toolbox even further. And at that point, Deirdre and Steve Buchko, which is another co-founder of Ferryman Collective, approached Lindsey and then approached Brian and myself and said, you know, we'd really like to do this thing. We think that there's a lot of potential here and it will be this smaller thing. It won't take too much time and we can do it kind of quickly. And then we've spent six months on it, which was not quite what we intended, but I'm, I'm incredibly glad that we have, because it's been a very powerful experience.

[00:19:37.157] Brian Tull: Yeah, we had a little creep in our scope for this show, I'm afraid, but I think it's all worked out in the end. Yeah, I think Brayden summarized it pretty well. I just want to speak a little bit to the power and the potential of VR chat and to VR social platforms in general. The ideation for immersive theater in VR certainly didn't start with The Under Presents for me. It started with immersive theater for me. Already being in the VR world, as soon as I saw my first real immersive show was Delusion, which is a huge show here over in LA. As soon as I saw Delusion, I mean, the spark went off like, or even earlier, but I don't know. Well, I guess that the spark initially was with haunts more than it was for immersive theater. Pretty much as soon as I got into VR, I was like, why is someone not done a live haunt with this? Because that to me just had so much more potential than just doing these scripted scares where, you know, it's just a bit of programming. It's not a intelligent agent. that is able to monitor me and watch me and wait for the time to get the best possible scare out of me. So the possibilities of live performance in VR have been a thing in my mind for as long as VR has been a thing. But that potential has always seemed so far away because I have some background as a world creator, as an artist. I've been a hobbyist, a 3D modeler, animator for my teens, really. I've been playing around with it. but I'm not a programmer. Well, I would really love to be able to put on live theater in VR, but I have to make an app from the ground up with networking, or I have to find somebody that's willing and able to do that for no money. So it always seems so far away. And even through the under presents, I was like, wow, this is an amazing thing they put together with their team of 20 people working full time. I'm so glad I'm able to do this and be a part of this, but I'm never going to be able to do it myself because I don't have these resources. But then seeing Finding Pandora X and Wow, these people have already figured out the networking. Well, we have our issues, but they've already kind of figured out the networking and getting connected to the world and all of these foundational infrastructure things that just allow us to be artists and tell stories. And so I would say more than anything, VR chat and like with Andy, Rec Room and these other social VR platforms, these are what allow this wave of creators to be a thing.

[00:21:47.425] Whitton Frank: I was just gonna sort of reiterate what I had said before, that I think the thing that really got me about The Under Presents in particular was the ability to connect with people in a different way that, like I said, I don't think anyone really understood was possible, but now seeing all these live theater projects, and that was really the key, different than prerecorded, right? Because otherwise, why VR as opposed to any other medium? And I think the answer is because not only is it immersive, but you can do all the things that you want to be able to do in immersive theater, right? You know, you can make someone the height of a child as we do in our show, which you couldn't do with an in-person experience, right? So you can take all the sort of fantastical movie-making tricks, bring someone into an environment, and combine that with the magic of live theater, that anything is possible. Really tasty thing that when you watch good theater, you get to participate in.

[00:22:47.753] Kent Bye: Yeah, well, I know that just thinking about the conceits of immersive theater, sometimes you have big group experiences where you're going through. And when I went to Sleep No More, I was able to have a one-on-one interaction where I was pulled in by one of the witches into a side room. And then later I went back to New York City and saw Then She Fell, which was taking that conceit of that one-on-one interaction and kind of building an entire show around it of just having these very intimate one-on-one interactions. And there's been other VR pieces that have started to play with this. There was a piece by the National Film Board and the National Theater that was at Tribeca a number of years. I forget the name of it, it's escaping me at the moment, but it was a one-on-one piece where you end up hugging the character as your mother. So you have this sort of one-on-one interaction. And then it doesn't really necessarily scale to do these one-on-one interactions. But I feel like over time, I've seen like the Meta Movie project where you have kind of like fly bots flying around. And then other pieces that were this past year at Sundance, having the ghost conceit of you being able to be present at this immersive theater piece, but you're not embodied. And so you're able to maybe have someone who is having that one-on-one interaction and other people who aren't. And so this piece is kind of building off of that as an idea of having a number of actors who are playing your mother and father in this piece. And you're, as the viewer, you're going and playing through Alex, but there's also these invisible ghosts who are able to watch what's happening, but they don't necessarily have to respond or act or say anything. In fact, they're muted. So they can just kind of observe just like they're the audience member, but they have the agency to kind of move around. So I'd be curious to hear you developing this as a conceit in terms of kind of structure. What is it about that one-on-one interaction in terms of the immersive theater and that level of intimacy that you were trying to create and maybe leveraging from other inspirations of of pieces that you've had from other immersive theater pieces and Noah Nelson has talked about how third rail projects talks about the glance back, about how there's this, the real seeing and witnessing of an individual. And there's an element of that in here of trying to like allow you to be a kind of improv and become a character in this scene. Well, you don't really know the full backstory of Alex. You're kind of learning it as you go along, but you're also play acting. So be curious to hear the evolution of this as a conceit, because it's, it's really difficult to kind of really, you know, set all that context and build all that up and do all these things.

[00:24:55.125] Braden Roy: Sure. I can speak a little bit about our spectator role as alters first. That is kind of a byproduct of a few things. One is that we noticed with our prior two productions that There's a lot of people that want to go through and experience these things, and they don't want to be the center of attention. They don't want eyes on them or the pressure. They very much want to be there and very much want it to be live and present, but they don't want to be speaking or have the limelight on them, so to speak. So in one sense, this is catering to that. And that's something that originally, well, to go back a ways, this is something that Brian and I had been talking about on and off for months prior to us seeing Finding Pandora X, prior to everything, just talking about how we could monetize these sorts of experiences and how maybe having tiered experiences would be the way to go. One of which would be more participatory and one more spectating. Additionally, that's kind of how we wanted to bring that into this experience in that. With a real show, you could obviously only have the one person in and that doesn't scale very well. You can't bring that experience to many people without having dozens of teams of actors going simultaneously or having the show run indefinitely. So our solution was to lean into the narrative aspect of it, of these being alters that are present in the moment. and also allowing them to explore and get in there, as well as having multiple teams of actors, as I mentioned earlier. And then in terms of Alex's participation and how we deal with that, I'm actually really proud of some things that we did there with how Alex participates or doesn't participate or chooses to participate with the knowledge that the audience member has there in that it plays directly into many of the symptoms of the disorder, which is portrayed dissociative identity disorder. audience member not knowing how to respond to certain prompts, not having memory of different things they're being questioned about because they would have no way of knowing. These are byproducts of gaps in memory or amnesia that people who suffer from dissociative identity disorder deal with and would be in positions similar to that, particularly when they're young and first experiencing symptoms for the first time where they might not remember things and be confused about it and not know what to say and having feelings of anxiety or pressure or all sorts of different emotions. And we can diegetically include that in the experience very naturally, as well as provide the audience member with a step into the world by putting them there in a very naturalistic way, which I'm super proud of.

[00:27:49.141] Brian Tull: Yeah, I think Braden spoke very well to the logistical and the artistic justifications. And then the other one is just, it's commercial, it's financial in that we're dealing with a gaming audience that may have come from The Undie Presents or may have really no familiarity with theatre and immersives that are already really not necessarily all that excited about paying for something that is sort of ephemeral. They think, okay, I pay my $10, my $15. I want access to content for the rest of my life. And I want it to never be taken away from me. We're saying you pay us your 10, $15 or $20 or what it might be for 30 minutes. So that's, that's a lot of gamers and people coming from a non theater perspective is kind of a no go. And then obviously, if you want to have two actors and you want to have a single person that they're playing towards, and you want to not pay the minimum wage for a couple hours of work per day and be able to hopefully at some point have a sustainable business model that allows for working actors to have that be their primary profession, which is something that we'd really like to work towards, because so many working actors aren't able to work full time, even close to full time and have these various other gigs. So having this allows us to keep that ticket price around what a gaming audience is going to be okay with, and also to have those other people filling out that experience. So we are able to pay our actors properly and still give that one-on-one experience to our primary ticket holder. And so again, yeah, also bring in far more people than we would be able to otherwise, as it would be very difficult to have these one-on-one shows and bring in the hundreds or thousands of people that we don't

[00:29:30.327] Kent Bye: Yeah, well, I think one of the things that was really striking about this piece in particular was a lot of the particle effects and the different coding and the ways that you're using the affordances of the spatial medium of VR to kind of like the fog and the haunt and some of those volumetric experiences that you wouldn't be able to do, let's say, in like a normal theater piece. You're able to like start to really lean into some of the affordances of VR and I know that Deirdre, we went on a world hop with Screaming Color through Gumball Lounge and Club Gumball, which was really mind-blowing to see some of the different shader effects that he was able to use with the way that that world was not only a basis of his soundtrack and music, but also the particle effects. And obviously, Screaming Color was also working on this piece, both in the music and composition, but also these particle effects and these other aspects of the interactions that are all fitting onto a Quest headset, which has to be optimized down to like less than 50 megabytes, which is within itself pretty amazing of how much you're able to squeeze in into these worlds and have the worlds that you do have be very deliberately interacting with the narrative that you're trying to tell. So I'd be very curious to hear a little bit about the world building and actual use of what you can do as a medium in VR. And I think that was probably one of the things that stood out the most for me in this piece was the different ways in which the world that I was in was reflecting and amplifying the story that you were trying to tell.

[00:30:50.368] Whitton Frank: I just wanted to touch on that part of that. We should give credit to our artistic director, Danielle and Lindsay, who had a very clear vision of how they wanted things to look. And our team has been very specific on those things. So coming into it with a theatrical perspective and combining that with the amazing abilities of our developers and the people on this team, I think was instrumental in that. So not just coming from a technical perspective, but from a theatrical perspective and an immersive perspective as well. It really was everybody coming together to go, okay, this is the effect we want the user or the audience member to experience. I mean, we do have amazingly talented people. We got very lucky with everyone that is on the team.

[00:31:42.315] Brian Tull: Yeah, you definitely want to lead with art direction and the experience that you're trying to give people versus starting with the effects and all the pretty stuff and figuring out how do we build a story around that. That's not the way you want to do theater and that's not the way we've done this. But yeah, I do wish we could have Topher of Screaming Color here with us. He is currently in New York. But yet he is the whiz for all of the particle effects, the animations. And just to speak from a technical perspective, that is a really great tool for the sort of work we're doing because it doesn't add space. Like you said, we have 50 megabytes of space to work with in a cross-compatible world, which is the size of like a 30-second low-resolution video. We have very, very little space that we've somehow managed to jam a lot of content into. But the wizardry and how we've been able to do so many of those cool effects that we have in the show is, one, that effects don't really take up space. They can affect performance, but they don't fill up the world very much. So that doesn't really contribute to it very much, which is great. But from the performance perspective, what we do is we just make the world disappear, typically, whenever we have effects. The world kind of fades away, and then the effects come, which allows us, because we've reduced how much you're having to have on the screen at one time, it allows us to do so much more. with the effects in our world, versus if you have a world where you're just trying to introduce those effects on top of the world that you have already, and you don't make a lot of those things disappear, then performance is going to degrade significantly on Quest, and it's going to make things very uncomfortable. So we've done a lot of really flashy things for this show, but we've also had a lot of care paid towards making sure that everything we do is done in the most optimized way possible to make sure that the experience is comfortable.

[00:33:22.965] Braden Roy: Indeed. Yeah. What Brian, Andy and Screaming Color have done has frankly, like, blown my socks off. And as Witten said, our art direction and creative direction from Lindsey and Danielle have been fantastic. Speaking for myself, like, while I may have stepped in and provided ideas and storyboarding and stuff for some of those different transitional effects and animations, to hand that over to Topher, who had, or Screaming Color, who has his own ideas already, and him just pounding away at it and coming back with this thing that's just very much his own baby is quite incredible. And as Brian said, the fact that we could do that in such a way that it actually helps us to fit more content in is very good. And then when we brought Andy on board, the things that Andy has added to our world, the tools that he has given us performers to work with, has been tremendous. The audience will never see these things, but the world is filled with different controls and different specialized UI and buttons, which can be accessible and brought up as like a HUD. And I've never seen anything prior to this in VRChat that did this. And I don't know. I will let Andy speak for himself, but he's done some incredible work.

[00:34:43.076] Andy Aloisio: Yeah. Yeah. Thank you, Brayden. Yeah, it's funny, actually, towards the end of the development process, the actors were sort of commenting more and more that as they're going through the show, there's just like this cloud of buttons everywhere. Because the basic function of like how to split the crew from the audience is like, we've set up a way that the crew can activate all of the interactive triggers, buttons, and some actual like UI panels. And they're just sort of floating around the world. They're in context for the actors to control in the right place. It's sort of like, you know, they hit their mark the button is there. They press the button at the right time, they make the cue happen. And we just kept adding more and more control for the actors, but that added up to more and more buttons that were sometimes, because these buttons don't disappear, like a lot of the animators, no spoilers here, but a lot of the animations, or at least a couple of the animations will make a lot of the world disappear. But that doesn't make the buttons disappear because they don't need to. So when the world disappears, the actors find themselves just sort of floating in this cloud of buttons that makes up most of the set. And yeah, all of those buttons have some amount of code that's attached to them that makes a thing happen. That being said, I mean, yeah, as Braden sort of said, my role was to make sure Whereas Brian and Screaming Color did a lot of making the things happen for the audience. I did a lot of making sure things don't happen, making sure things don't break and that the actors don't lose control. So a lot of the stuff I've done is invisible. And yeah, I actually came into the production sort of halfway through it. So I'll say a lot of what you're seeing, a lot of the stuff that you see happen during the show is powered mainly by animators. I guess what I'm trying to get out of here is. Unity as a set of tools and as a medium for creating is really powerful. And it should be said that because what we keep seeing happening and even I've seen happening is we'll have an idea, especially Topher will have an idea. And then you can just sort of quickly go in and sketch it out and make it happen because the tools are so well built and usable in Unity, but also in the VRChat SDK to put something together within the space of a couple of days. and get an idea of how well it's working, what it's going to look like. Those main tools, a lot of what you're seeing, like I said, is animators. That's sort of a Unity tool set that gives you a nice sort of timeline layout. And you can hit a record button, move things around. It does a lot for you. And the other one is particle systems, which Screaming Color is clearly obsessed with. He's kind of a whiz with all of the power that you can use particle systems, all the stuff that you can do with those. You know, they're flying colors and he's screaming color. They match up really well. So that's a lot of what you're seeing from that is sort of coming from how good those tools are. For my part, I want to put a little bit of a plugin, pretty much everything I've learned that I used and also to some degree, screaming color, the VRC Prefabs community. Topher and I are both somewhat regular participants in that community. It's a subset of the VRChat community. That's essentially an Academy of Sciences. just for the VRChat SDK and learning to build in Unity. So a lot of what happened in this show is thanks to me being in the middle of problem solving, going in, asking for help and learning something new so that I could turn around and implement it as part of this show. That's true for Screaming Color as well, but also just kind of a lot of grinding out and learning. I'll also say for me, this has been a learning experience. One of the main draws for me is I'm sort of in transition between careers right now, learning computer programming as part of this project. And this was just a great excuse to have some new problems plopped in front of me to solve. And in solving them, I've learned a lot. And yeah, the fact that the things I build actually work is kind of just a cherry on top.

[00:38:24.377] Braden Roy: To touch a bit on the performance side, with each show that we've done, we've moved further and further towards having it so that we don't need third parties in the experience which aren't performers, you know, additional crew or stage management or whatever. and instead turning the tools over to the performers themselves. So that in real time, as Andy and Brian and Wynton spoke of, controlling things and having access to these invisible triggers and tools at our disposal. Because with these sorts of experiences, obviously you want the ratio of audience member to cast and crew to be at a sustainable level. And the more crew you need in there in order to make the world work, the greater risk you're at for one of them falling out and something breaking, but also financial stability and being able to pay those people fair wages and whatnot. So having those different tools at our disposal as we go through, it's a testament to our performers that they've been able to take that on and be able to juggle, making the audience members feel seen and feel something emotional in the production while also having their hand over here, hitting a bunch of buttons and not having anyone notice. That's all I really wanted to comment on in terms of performance for the world building. I think Whitten has some stuff to say, though.

[00:39:45.688] Whitton Frank: Yeah. I mean, essentially that I was going to comment, as Andy said, we see all of the behind the stage stuff. It would be like if you were doing a theater production as an actor. and at the same time, you were backstage crew. So pulling the curtain, cueing the lights on the soundboard. Doing every aspect, actually. Andy is our secret weapon in that he is able to give us tools to make all of that a little bit more streamlined. Although, as he said, if you were to see behind the curtain, you would see the world is just all these different buttons and panels. But it would be like if you were backstage at a theater, and when you walk behind and you see all the pulleys. and you see the huge panel of lights, and you see paper everywhere telling people when they have to be where, and which cues, or the prop table back there that's labeled. It's all still there, just in a slightly transformed way. And I think, luckily, a lot of us, Deirdre, Steve, and I, had experience doing that because we had to learn how to do that for The Under Presents. Although, because they were building their own platform, we didn't have the buttons, but we had wheels and controls on our hands, and we had a backstage space that we launched from, essentially, where we pre-set up a bunch of things. Which backstage things would we need access to for that particular sojourn into the underpresents? It is a learning experience. As Braden said, being able to focus one's energy and thoughts on the audience as you would in a performance, while at the same time having that divided concentration of the stage crew. Like, okay, when do I cue this music? All right, I've got to remember to walk over here and press this button at this time on this line. it does take time to get used to that. So that's also one of the things that we are dealing with is that there aren't that many actors in the world at this moment who are capable or trained to do that. So it's been a bit interesting to be like, all right, we have to work, you know, within this pool of people. But luckily also with Andy and Screaming Color and Brian, they've been really willing to when we as the artistic team or the actors or the art direction has been like, could we do this? And we have been kind of playing around with that, I think. We didn't really know if everything was possible that we have done in this show. And sometimes the world would break, which is interesting. Sometimes it would completely be like there was a moment when things disappeared and we didn't know why, or things appearing for no reason. So it's not just as simple as perhaps these amazingly talented people are making it seem. We certainly do break things, and we do have to go through that trial and error period the same way you would when creating a show, like when doing the light board or the sound board and running those cue-to-cue rehearsals like you would in live theater. It's weirdly similar to live theater, but if you were able to mash up the performance and technical side together.

[00:43:12.443] Kent Bye: Yeah, well, I know that when I went to the Braindance and saw a lot of the VR chat worlds, it was then, I think, that I realized, oh, wow, there's this whole community that are really collaborating with each other with the prefabs. And after I saw The Devouring and saw Fiona and Lacuzza and Legends and Cyan Laser and their involvement with this community and the different community meetups that they have and just like a knowledge sharing community and a whole spreadsheet of different resources that people create these prefabs, which are essentially bundles of either objects or code or things that you can kind of insert into your unity project and be able to add different functionality. So I'm curious to hear from you, Andy, if there's any. Of those existing prefabs that were sort of as a baseline. And if that you have been able to kind of bundle up some of these different things that you've been developing and contribute back as your own immersive theater control prefab.

[00:43:59.856] Andy Aloisio: Yes. So I know Topher screaming color put to use some prefabs. The other thing about having prefabs available from the prefabs community is you can use it directly or you can just sort of take it, crack it open, dissect it, take the parts that you need and adapt them. And so the question is like, at what point has this thing that somebody else built, at what point is that what's being used? Or is it just that a thing that I learned from and I built my own version? It's hard to say. I'm tempted to say Topher probably didn't directly use a lot of stuff. There are some tools, some Unity editor tools that we use. I'm not sure where those came from. For my part, the only direct prefab that we use is there's a keypad for giving access to the crew. There's a secret pin code, which please don't try to guess it. You won't be able to anyway, but that's used in a lot of nightclub worlds where like there's a VIP area, right? Where there's a keypad somewhere on a wall that you give the code to people you want to get into your special area in your nightclub world or whatever it is. And so that fit well for our purpose for separating crew from audience, right? We want the crew to have access to the backstage to use the analogy. So I use that one. But that's actually the only direct prefab that I used. Like I said, most of the value contributed for me was asking the very people who have built other things just for help, like asking them to help me solve a problem, how something works so that I could turn around and use it. As for whether I have things to contribute back to the prefabs community, absolutely. I very much hope to be doing that soonish. Like I said, I'm more or less a beginner. So right now I don't really feel confident with the stuff that I've built. Well, there's two parts to it. First of all, the stuff that I've built, like, yeah, it works, but I also sort of threw it together and tested it, but I don't feel that I took the time to make it the quality of something that I'd want to redistribute and be usable for other people. So that will come with time. I'll revisit, like, you know, I plan to maintain the sort of things that I've designed and maybe some of those things I'll be able to break off into smaller pieces and give back to the prefabs community to be used. But the other part of it is by the sort of nature of being, you know, this production is its own unique story, which means parts of it are their own unique needs. Each problem is its own unique problem to be solved, right? That's where the special and special effects come from. It's not a general effect, it's a special effect. It's this moment in this story, this thing needs to happen. So just by that nature of it, a lot of the things are just really specially built for this production. And like I could share with people, but they wouldn't have much use for unless they were doing another welcome to respite, which, you know, maybe in the future we can think about a future where immersive productions like have runs that are done by different production companies. You know, you, you have a script that's written and you can sort of give a kit to people of code and assets they can use. But right now I'm not thinking in those terms. So the answer is like. The knowledge I've gained is going to lead me to create more prefabs for the prefabs community. Absolutely. As for specific things from this production, I haven't really spotted anything, but like, as I continue to work on it, I'll be looking out for that stuff. I'm definitely always happy to contribute back to communities like prefabs for the value that I got out of it.

[00:47:18.376] Kent Bye: Yeah, I think that makes sense. With any project and software project, you know, you have your use case and then to be able to release it, it's like a generalized use case that then, you know, how do you allow people to make their own buttons? It becomes at some point, you know, a different problem sometimes. But I think just the fact that there's a knowledge sharing community that's out there, that you're able to have resources and just the idea that there could be repositories of things for the people in the future may not have to solve a lot of these same problems. They can just kind of take these existing solutions and slot them in. So the people that are creating the content can just focus on building the world and doing the story rather than kind of doing all this sort of infrastructure to be able to support.

[00:47:52.342] Andy Aloisio: I guess I will say that the one thing we've talked a little bit about that I hope to be generalizable is the user interface for actors, right? So one really specific example is actually probably one of the easiest things that I built for this was just a teleport control panel that the actors can use to teleport around the, in our case, it's a house and they're just sort of little way points around the house and they can at any moment, open up the control panel, teleport around. I happen to know that in The Under Presents, the actors had something similar to this because we would be in The Under Presents universe and they would just sort of pop in, you know, that's obviously they have some way to teleport around. I don't know the details of it, but the point is for any given VR live theater production, you know, actors are going to have some primary needs, you know, to move around, maybe to spawn props, right? Like at any moment they realize they need a prop, maybe it's not right there in front of them. Like what Wynton was saying, like to have access to the prop table at any time. So I can certainly imagine that there are general need things for VR live immersive theater productions. And I really look forward to a future where I can contribute to that sort of somewhat specialized, but still general need of like things for maybe other productions in VR chat. It's not for general VR chat world usage, but for people who are doing VR live theater productions in VR chat, like, Oh yes, this is exactly what we need. that doesn't exist right now. I mean, we've got Finding Pandora X, right? Like they've got their own members, the Prefabs community that are contributing to that production. But I do look forward to honestly, hopefully a near future thing where we sort of have a smallish group of people who talks about like a, what are the needs of actors and how can we provide for them general use stuff like that. So that's probably a more nearby thing that could be contributed.

[00:49:33.669] Whitton Frank: I love the idea of pre-done VR theater packages, because that sort of already happens with big budget Broadway musicals, where like if you were a school or something and you wanted to do Sweeney Todd, they will send you the set pieces, like the traveling set pieces and costumes, you know, the barber's chair and things like that. which is sort of what we're kind of talking about, which is, can we do that for VR? Which is if someone, yeah, if some group wanted to do Welcome to Respite in the future, would we just send them a package of files and be like, here you go? There it is. I think, again, there are a lot of lessons to be taken from the world of theater, but also that we can, in VR, expand on it in pretty amazing ways.

[00:50:17.676] Brian Tull: Yeah, something we've been really excited about in Welcome to Respite is being able to take that immersive show and adapt it and to bring more immersive people into VR because there's a lot of really fleshed out concepts. They've got acting teams, they've got all of these traditional resources they need to put on the show, but they just don't have that connection to the VR world and don't know how to get started with that. And in a lot of cases, it's actually not very complicated. I mean, what we've done is quite complicated. We've put a lot of work into it, a lot of hours, but I am an absolute proponent of using the Asset Store. The Asset Store has lots of wonderful work by artists that have taken the time to make this work and need your money to help support them. So support them and don't try to make everything yourself to put on a show. And over the course of six months, it's not going to happen. You're going to spend all the time working on the world and not being able to work on the story. So yeah, we definitely want to be a resource going forward for theater creators or for VR creators. VR creators that they have this great world, this idea for a world that they want to tell a story, but they don't have the actors. They don't have the writers. We have sort of all of those components available to us. And we're definitely looking at helping other creators get into this world. And yeah, it's sort of as complicated as you want to make it. Like I said, we've put six months into this, we've been working hard at it, and we have used a lot of assets from the asset store, but we have modified them and we've been very mindful in our selection of assets to make sure everything is artistically consistent. But we're working on a side project now, a club project. And what it is thus far is basically just an asset I bought. I optimized things for VRChat so that they fit into a cross-compatible world. And we have essentially a fully functioning rehearsal space that we're using. We are going to, going forward as we take that show to the public, we're going to modify that space so it has a lot of our own unique flair and it feels like the world that we're trying to convey. But if you just want a space, there are spaces on the asset store that are fully functioning. You just, you do have to have some skills, especially if you want to do quest worlds to know how to get that optimized to the point where you can use it in class. And of course you won't have things like Andy's done with the programming and the music and things like that. And you have to have a little bit of time spent to learn how to do some of these things. But if you just want a sort of a basic space where you can just tell a story, those things are available to you and it doesn't require a great deal of knowledge to learn how to get some of these basics up and going.

[00:52:45.335] Kent Bye: I wanted to dig into a little bit of the content of the story, just because it's about dissociative identity disorder that's kind of featured. In some ways you have the onboarding where you're kind of describing some of this and then the offboarding VRChat world that you have, which is a really amazing world, by the way. It's a public world that people can go check out and get more context of this piece with all the different folks that have been involved with it and some of the streaming colors, portals to his world. One of the things that is in there is a mental health rotunda with information about dissociative identity disorder. And whenever I see pieces like this around mental health, the question I always have is like, okay, what is the provenance in terms of how this story was connected to somebody who has this condition and how that was translated? So this is in some sense, or maybe the first iteration of this immersive theater part, was Lindsay Scroggin going in and doing this translation of dissociative identity disorder into this immersive story. And then you're coming in and doing a translation of that translation into a VR experience. And so there's kind of a telephone game here in some sense, in terms of getting back to the roots of this as an issue. So how do you navigate that in terms of making sure that there's some level of authenticity in terms of the ways that you're telling the story is actually accurately either representing this condition or if it is just kind of taking it as a creative inspiration and going off in a separate direction. So at the end of it, that's the questions that I have in terms of the experience that I had and then how much of what I did experience is kind of tied back into the generalized experiences of people who happen to have this condition.

[00:54:13.547] Braden Roy: Absolutely. First off, representation of this disorder is very important and something that historically media portrayals have not done a great job of. There's been a lot of demonization and just generally misinformation about the symptoms and the behavior of people with dissociative identity disorder. I can't speak too much about the genesis of this aspect in real life version, other than the fact that Lindsay and Daniel worked with a lot of people and had different talks and did a bunch of reading and viewing of different documentaries in order to be as true to the disorder as possible. However, no one on our team actually has dissociative identity disorder. We have links to it. As an example, my aunt has it. But for me, the important thing in adapting it to VR was to leverage the affordances of the medium in order to make the audience feel what someone with DID would feel in this situation of being a child not diagnosed yet, parents that don't know and how they're responding to it, and having phenomena, which would otherwise be internalized fully, being somewhat externalized in order for the audience member to feel it. As an example, people with DID generally will not see visual representation of their alters even when confronting. They'll have internalized things within their inner world with them and sometimes have visual representations there, but they won't see them out and about in the world. Or they will have discussions or can hear each other when confronting. Since we can't actually tap into people's brains quite yet, Neuralink's still just a little bit ways for that. As an example, we have Kyle, which is a protector altar represented as some particle effects so that the audience member gets a sense of presence that we wouldn't otherwise be able to convey. The sort of presence that someone with DID would feel with their altar as they're confronting or within their inner world. Likewise, some of the visual effects to invoke and imbue different emotional effects such as there's a scene where dark fog is present and the hope there is to make the audience feel the sort of anxiety and sense of dread that might be present with someone who has D.I.T. and different lapses in memories being moved around. So having that rotunda of mental health awareness, information, resources, terminology, and places to visit, to reach out to, was extremely important to us so that people knew coming out of the experience that what they just saw was, above all else, entertainment. But we want it to inspire empathy and understanding for people with DID and other mental health and trauma disorders. But to know, OK, this is what I saw. A person with DID does not see these things. They feel these things, potentially, depending on their situation. Everyone is different. Symptoms can vary wildly from person to person, and obviously we each have our own very unique experience in life regardless. but this way they know anxiety and amnesia, dissociation, depersonalization, even things such as like sleeping disorder, where at the end, without getting into spoilers, we have certain things that are reminiscence of sleep paralysis. And having that information in there is extremely important and how we actually present it within the project itself is extremely important, but more than anything, The goal was to make the audience feel something that would be a small crumb of what someone with DID might in a similar situation.

[00:58:08.482] Whitton Frank: I think just touching on that, it's a little bit maybe slightly different from empathy, where you feel for someone, you have an understanding of it. And it's almost like you are, instead we are causing you to feel for yourself what these things are. As Brayden said, the sense of dread the anxiety, the paralysis. bit of the helplessness of it. And I think that's really crucial to a lot of these experiences. When I was at Tribeca, a lot of the VR and immersive experiences there also deal with this same idea of relating in a very, very real way because of how we relate to VR and the mental jumps that our mind does so that we really do feel that this is real space that makes those emotional responses and the things that we are The situations we're putting you through causes real physical and emotional responses in the person watching, which I think is a step further almost than empathy. It's actually causing you to, in real time, understand. There's a few other experiences that deal with PTSD, and I went to another experience that dealt with age and mental deterioration, which was Goliath, which is about a man who was dealing with that and found solace in gaming because it gave him a sense of control. that otherwise he didn't have. It was really powerful. But as you were going through, you actually heard your own voice repeating in your head. There was difficulty grabbing things. So you experienced all of those frustrations as if they were your own, which I think is the real power here for this kind of work that VR can make leaps and bounds towards and is already doing that. People are working with therapy in VR, meditation, but this human understanding going back to the idea of connection, this is something that we can really make great strides forward in through this work. And as Braden said, it was really important to us that people understood that what the show was inspired by and that we are just touching on these things and that this is a much larger, and mental health in general, is a much larger thing that we are trying to give them some understanding and to be able to really relate to people, especially when they don't have these problems themselves.

[01:00:34.513] Kent Bye: I think when I first saw the early prototype run and then I saw it again and then was able to go to the rotunda and see more of the data, I guess there's things in the experience of seeing stuff that could be perceived as hallucinations and something that may be associated with other disorders. And so I can see how there's a translation that we're trying to use the affordances of the medium to be able to evoke feelings without being able to literally get into someone's head to be able to actually reproduce what the experience actually is. There's some poetic interpretation and Yeah, I guess the thing that I would love to hear as time goes on is for people who have dissociative identity disorder to go through this experience and then to hear feedback to see whether or not they feel like there's an accurate representation. Because when I saw it, I saw it a number of months ago, and then I found people on TikTok who represent themselves, but also the various different alters and different switching that happens. And there are other people that are sharing their direct phenomenological experiences and that are out there talking about this. And so maybe this is a piece that just like it did for me, catalyzed and provide just enough context for me to go out and find other resources to kind of learn more about it, but not to like, use this as the canonical piece of information to have everything I need to know about this. Cause it opens a door, but there's a lot of things that I learned after that, that weren't necessarily within the artistic piece.

[01:01:45.473] Braden Roy: Absolutely. And that's something else that we're hopeful with is that when they walk away from the show, particularly after they see the mental health section of the credits world, as it were, that it has their interest, that they will then take the initiative to go out and get more information for themselves and explore what this is. I mean, our experience is only, you know, once you're in the show, 30 minutes start to finish approximately. And unfortunately we can't have everything in there without losing any semblance of narrative within that frame of time. But in order to get that fire going in the audience, to get their interest, to make them want to go out and explore and understand more and hopefully spread that knowledge rather than spreading misinformation from, say, the movie Split about people getting superpowers from their alter personalities, which is not true. So yeah, hopefully it inspires people to learn more.

[01:02:45.584] Whitton Frank: But also very quickly, I think one of the experiences that we've had, we have had some people who have familiarity with that illness come through, and the response has been really good. And they've given us some really great input, but also that within the show, and this speaks to the writing, Lindsey and Brayden, that what we've noticed is that people with other bits of trauma and life experiences have found moments that read to them, we had a woman come through the other day who has phobia of darkness. I mean, we all have that a little bit, but she has a real, and had been using VR to do therapy. And so when she came through, she said it was actually really interesting for her because it showed her how far she'd come with her phobia. And we had someone else come through who there's a brief moment dealing with alcohol. And this person had had alcoholics in their family and said that that moment really spoke to them. I think the lesson that I've taken from it is that most of us have some childhood trauma in some form or another, whether it's small or big or whatever. And maybe not to be too snappy, we aren't all that far away from each other. It may seem that you or I or anyone is far from someone with a DID, but maybe we're not. And the fear that VR or technology is pushing people apart or separating is unfounded, in my opinion, because of what we're seeing with this show and others where actually it's bringing our understanding closer together and showing us the ways in which we're not all that different. You know, just what happens to us in life takes us in these different directions. But yeah, we've really been able to, I think one of the comments that we've gotten is people actually talking with us about their own trauma because of moments in the show.

[01:04:34.180] Braden Roy: Absolutely. It's regardless of whether or not someone has DID or any similar dissociative or trauma-based disorder. I mean, trauma, unfortunately, is a universal constant of the human experience and it's something that we can all relate to. Feelings of anxiety and panic and frustration and the fact that we can provide an experience which many people are finding to be very cathartic is, it's a wonderful feeling. And frankly, I'm incredibly jealous that I'm not able to go through the experience blind because I've had people go through and they're like, yeah, this is like parallels to things in my childhood and it, I just, feel like I flushed something from my system going through like just a sense of catharsis. And it's like, oh, I want to do that, but I can't because I know everything already. But yes, it's very powerful. And as Wynton said, it's very much bringing people together. I mean, VR has been described as an empathy machine previously, and there's been some debate over whether or not that's accurate. And I think sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't. But in this case, It is bringing people together in a lot of different ways, be it our audience members, where we'll have an audience that is made up of people from several continents and countries all in the same space, having the same experience together, and then having a discussion afterwards directly with one another without any question of borders or language, ideologies that might be prevalent in the place that they live, or our team, which is spread across the country. We've got people in LA and Texas and East Coast, South Dakota, and then of course, the most important bit, bringing people's understanding together and realizing that regardless of who we are and what our background is, we're all going through this thing together, right? And that's powerful to me.

[01:06:30.357] Kent Bye: Definitely. Well, the last question I'd like to ask, what do you each think the ultimate potential of virtual reality and immersive storytelling and immersive theater all coming together, what the ultimate potential of all those things could be and what it might be able to enable?

[01:06:45.649] Braden Roy: I think that's something that we're still discovering in the early days of movies and TV. People didn't really know what to do with the medium. They just kind of took existing things that they had a frame of reference for, like stage plays, and recorded them. Didn't really know how else to explore. It took a long time and a lot of iteration and a lot of minds on that project to figure out how visual mediums could be used to the best of their ability. And I mean, even today, there's experimentation and a lot of room in those fields. VR, I feel like we're finally getting to those early days of film, and I think one part of the equation is what we've stumbled across here, and others have stumbled across, but that's really the emphasis of our team, and that is Finally, allowing connection between people. Setting a stage where presence and embodiment can be together and provide people to see from someone else's perspective, to step into someone else's shoes, and to be connected to other people in a way that they just wouldn't otherwise be. Or explore spaces that they couldn't otherwise get to. And have experiences like this, where normally, if you're not in LA, New York, or London, you simply would be unable to. But I think the core element of everything that we see going forward is going to be connection and embodiment.

[01:08:08.493] Brian Tull: I think the most exciting thing for me regarding VR immersive theater is just the ability to make immersive theater a part of people's lives in the same way that film and TV is. Right now, even for someone who is in LA, just with the cost of immersive theater and just, well, especially following the pandemic, the lack of productions that are even happening right now, Typically, even for someone that's an enthusiast of immersive theater, it's something that you do once a month, once every few months. But VR, with its reduced cost of entry and with the ability to monetize in so many creative ways, to bring that ticket price down and to make it something that is available in some capacity to everyone, I'm hoping that not only will it allow us to have a world where working actors that are not these A-list actors that are making millions of dollars are able to have their profession and have that be their full-time work but also will allow the average person to see a show once a week or whenever they have that availability because it's so democratized to creators and we don't have worries of venues and permits and all of these other things that raise up the price of immersives and require that they be done in these specific areas and cost tens, hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce and thus must have a ticket price that is appropriate for that. So yeah, I'm just really excited for being able to raise the visibility of art and of working actors. That's something that is, I don't want to make it seem mundane, but also to some degree make it an everyday thing where art and performance can be part of your world all the time versus just the, okay, I've saved up for six months to have enough money to go see Hamilton. There's a place for that, but I don't think that that's the only place for theater and performance.

[01:10:00.492] Andy Aloisio: So I'll share my thought process in answering your question, Kent. My first reaction, like, what's the ultimate thing that can be done with this? My first reaction was, you know, The Ender Presents already did something really, really great. And it did something really great in the experience that was involved, but also the community that was created in The Ender Presents. And I don't know, I hope it continues to sort of be analyzed what was accomplished and still being accomplished. But a lot of it was, I consider it to be sort of a feat of the imagination. So much in it was really unique, imagined experience that was just very honestly, expertly put into the medium of VR. And the design choices that were made, I think were genuinely ahead of their time. Like in The Enter Presents, one of the biggest things is there's no voice. The actors can talk, but the audience in the productions, but also in the universe, you can't use your microphone. There's no voice, but you communicate. And that's a big deal. Not only do you figure out how to communicate using body language, you know, virtual reality, six degrees of freedom controllers, but also you have a shared language of like magic. I guess I won't get too much into it, but I guess my thought process there was like just a little bit of imagination put into this medium. And what came out the other side was this really positive community of human beings that were spread out around the globe, probably still most of the English speaking world, but spread out everywhere, but it was still just a really positive community of people who didn't really do a ton of talking to each other necessarily. And so what that led me to is my hope for the future of live VR theater, including immersive theater, is just continuing that idea of creating feats of the imagination. And this is where I get sort of specific because that leads me to science fiction. I'm kind of a big nerd, right? The stories that I have always been most attracted to and inspired by are things like the Twilight Zone, Star Trek. The reason those are so inspiring to me are because they create a sort of a thought experiment that couldn't exist in reality. Good sci-fi does, I think, in my opinion, one thing, and that is it takes something that can't exist in reality yet, like right now or for whatever reason, and it creates a thought experiment. And at the end of that, you experience it, you hear the story, and at the end of it, you've learned some lesson, or you've learned to think about something in a new way. My hope is that VR live theater utilizes that and takes that logical step forward and creates social benefit using exactly that kind of thing. And again, I think The Under Presents did this in some way, but yeah. So I guess to put it in a really specific way, I'm hoping to see interesting sci-fi stuff that's not just like the sexy sort of superficial sci-fi lasers going off spaceship stuff. I want that, but I want the, this can't exist in reality, but let's experience it. It's a story I still want to tell. So I want to share that story with other people and I want to experience that story with other people. That's what I want to see.

[01:13:00.673] Whitton Frank: I think, Andy, you've touched on something really specific and perhaps something that's happening in the zeitgeist right now, and not just with VR. Because of the internet and it's sort of grown exponentially since that became accessible to all of us, is the understanding suddenly that perhaps the mainstream acceptability of all things, entertainment, and then of course everything else experience, that mainstream status quo experience that we have accepted for so long and has been the only voice in the room, suddenly it's not. And we are seeing that reflected across all forms of entertainment. If you look at some of the stuff that's coming out right now, I think Neil Gaiman's The Sandman, which is very non-linear storytelling and expansive. And then I just found out this podcast that I adore, Welcome to Night Vale. which is very surreal and strange, sci-fi mixed. It's almost like The Under Presents in a way. There's all of these strange characters and interactions that make no sense and yet do within the world. That's going to be made into a TV series, it sounds like, which is, I know, right? It's super cool and congratulations to them. So I think that what we are seeing right now in the entertainment world is a lean towards this non-linear, non-mainstream ideology or possibilities. And the sci-fi sort of, which I think Star Trek certainly touched on, which is, what is humanity capable of when we are at our most creative and the highest point of our potential? What are we capable of? Which is, I think, the question that we see now being asked and people looking towards. I think VR is a huge part of that, as Braden mentioned earlier. VR has been around for a while, or the idea of VR has certainly been around for a while. They've tried a couple of times to kind of make it happen. There were early games. And it didn't really hook. And maybe because of the pandemic, maybe because people really needed that different space to tell stories, it has hit. And now we're seeing it grow at a crazy rate with people pushing the technology, finding out what it's capable of, experimenting with it. I was very lucky to be on a panel the other day at Tribeca with some other immersive storytellers. some with sound, some with VR, and one of them, this team also from LA, I will say, I do think LA is a great space for this right now, is called If Not Now, and it deals with Afrofuturism and the black body and things like that. It's fascinating, and basically you see a dancer in real time, but also as an avatar projected behind them as almost a godlike figure, this sort of rock figure, and you see it moving in real time, but you can also watch it in VR. It's crazy. But the magic of that, we get to see the human body become something else, and we get to see in the underpresents we get to see the world expand in front of us. And we get to be a part of that. That's the other part of this, right? All this immersive stuff, not only is it the actors and the performers, which I think is incredible to be a part of, but the participants, they're a part of the story. That was what we really saw with The Under Presents was the community created their own stories. and almost drew us, the performers, into those rather than us giving them the stories. They actually started creating the stories and then we would go along with those and perhaps add to them. But it was almost the reverse of what you would normally expect as a performer. So I think, yeah, the future of storytelling with VR is sort of limitless at the moment. The potential for it is pretty incredible though.

[01:17:02.539] Braden Roy: Something that you touched on, or all of you touched on, I think is very important in that any creation, be it a painting, a book, a movie, TV series, game, is at its core a conversation from the creator, or the artist, or the author, and the audience, or the reader, or however you want to frame it. It's a conversation of sorts, and each format has a different way of conveying that conversation. One thing that is very exciting about VR is that that conversation can happen with proximity, with a closeness and embodiment, or even happen in real time with direct line of communication in several different ways between the creators and the audience and the they have the opportunity to intermingle and coexist in a single space where the line between audience and creator can blur. And I think that that'll be very exciting to see going forward as well.

[01:18:02.490] Kent Bye: Well, I know that, Andy, you mentioned The Under Presents and the debriefing, and I know that No Proscenium had a whole debriefing with 14 of the different actors in that piece. I know, Witton, you participated in that panel discussion. I think that's an audio that's available that you can go listen to. But I think you're right that there is certainly a lot more that needs to be digested and unpacked, both from the creators and the actors and the community of that experience. We'll learn a lot about where this is all going. But I wanted to give one last opportunity, if there's anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say to the broader Immersive community.

[01:18:34.825] Brian Tull: I guess just give VRChat a chance. We know that the reputation of VRChat isn't always the best, and the public instances can be a little bit of a mess. The community are all over the place, all ages and all people, and that's a wonderful thing to bring people together. But don't worry, if you come to our shows, there's not going to be little hedgehogs and whatnot running around. We do keep a tight lid on all of that. Yeah, so I just hope that these social platforms, which are really the best way forward for theater creators right now, get their chance to shine as a means to convey these shows and these things we're trying to do. It's a lot of stigma with the platform in terms of its tendency towards memes and chaos, but there are wonderful tools that are available to us that allow us to do things that we couldn't otherwise do.

[01:19:27.047] Andy Aloisio: Yeah. And I'll jump in real quick and add on to that. Yeah. Give VRChat a chance, but also if you're making a VR production in VRChat, tell the developers what you need. That's something we need to be doing. It's a broad application platform. It supports a lot of just things that people are doing. ranging from just hanging out to music things to creating to VR live theater. And we have specific needs that need to be met by developers and we're doing our best to sort of keep an ear and to explain to them why a VR live theater is a positive contribution to the VRChat community. And the more voices in their ears saying this is what we need, the more likely we'll get those things and the more likely our audiences will have an easier experience getting to our shows, seeing them and less of a bumpy road.

[01:20:15.485] Braden Roy: I would say that, come on in, the water is fine. Like, right now, the point of entry is lower than it's ever been, possibly in history, both in terms of these sorts of productions, immersive theater, and VR in general. The Quest and Quest 2 were huge catalysts in bringing this to the masses. And you can pick up a Quest 2 for, what, $300? And that's all the equipment you need. And then for making things, Every tool that you could need is freely available, and all the resources for how to use it is freely available. Blender is free. Unity is free. VRChat is free. Altspace is free. Everything is free. You just got to jump in. And if you're worried about not knowing where to start, honestly, just pick a place and go from there. There's thriving communities that are anxious and ready to lend a hand and resources, more resources than you could possibly need on YouTube and in different wikis. So yeah, just come on in. Let's explore the space and define what this can be.

[01:21:22.090] Whitton Frank: I think that's absolutely true. You know, right now, as I said earlier, it's the Wild West. And one thing I've really noticed is that the immersive sort of community is very welcoming. And you could just ask, you know, if you need help, if you don't know how to do something, as everyone, I think on the team has said, there are these groups, they're just talking about it. And the developers want to hear your feedback. The creators want to hear your feedback. They want to know how we can make this better, how we can push it further. And particularly for performers, this is another way to market your skills to a completely different audience, to a worldwide audience. And I think that, you know, sometimes the entertainment industry can feel very isolating and hard to get into. And here is a way for people to get into it. at a very early moment in time where everyone is open to sharing and creating together and collaborating. So as Brayden said, come on in and join us. See what is possible here.

[01:22:27.643] Kent Bye: Yeah. And as a reflection, just listening to the stories, I know Andy, you said that this has been a real learning experience for you and that everybody that's involved with this production also is in the process of learning all the technology and learning how to blend all these things together. I think in Screaming Colors bio thing in the world, it said that, you know, this is the first time that he's done theater and VR and that he's hooked and that this won't be his last theater production. And one of the things also the Ferryman Collective is a collective It's very decentralized. And as I was trying to schedule this interview, it was a little bit of like, well, who's going to show up? Well, it's a, it's everybody is sort of involved. And so I just want to also give an opportunity if there's anyone else that you wanted to give a shout out to that maybe we didn't talk about or are a part of the collective or were involved with the project. If you wanted to sort of give any other shout outs for anybody else, that's either a formal part of the collective or just a part of this production.

[01:23:15.210] Brian Tull: What comes to mind is Sonic Cooper. I believe we've already mentioned our art director, Danielle, our creative director, Lindsey, Deirdre, and Steve were not able to make us there. Two of the founders of the Ferryman Collective that are also performers in the show. But the one we haven't mentioned at all, I believe, is Sonic Cooper, who was the character creator for Alex, which is the child and parents. And they did wonderful work making very expressive avatars for us, which I think really contribute to the show. It has created a little bit more challenge for our actors because now we have expressions. And those expressions, you have to control with your hands. So you have to be very mindful of what your hands are doing or else you're going to be saying something nice and you're going to be angry. Or you also have to be careful that they don't see your hands too much because you've got to do a thumbs up to show that you're happy. You don't want to, obviously, have to have them see you're doing a thumbs up the whole time. So we kind of have to be mindful of where our hands are and what we're doing with our hands. But it is also really great for expanding our ability to convey emotion. And yeah, we're really excited for what they've done, and we hope to bring them on for future productions.

[01:24:20.185] Braden Roy: Also of note, we have Jeff Heimbuch, which provided the voice acting for Kyle and helped with sound direction. And then we had Morgan Steve.

[01:24:32.818] Brian Tull: I think so, yes. Yeah, Morgan and Jeff, they didn't work on the show on a day-to-day basis so much. They kind of did their voiceover in another area, got that information over to us. But yeah, they were very important.

[01:24:46.332] Whitton Frank: I just wanted to give a quick shout out, of course, to Deirdre and Steven. Deirdre in particular, I think, after The Under Presents and The Tempest, really has gone out of her way to talk about acting in VR and theater and VR and connect people. I mean, she really does deserve a big shout out and accolades because I think I think she's one of the driving forces behind a lot of this. She was a part of Finding Pandora X, which I believe you can see right now. They're doing another run of shows. So please go check that out. It's a wonderful production. And I don't know if there's any other shows that we want to give a shout out to, but I did want to just give Deirdre, since she wasn't able to be here, thanks and acknowledgement, because I really think a lot of this wouldn't have happened without her. really pushing for it and connecting the right people and going out of her way to talk to people and to you, Kent, and others, to be able to talk this up in general.

[01:25:44.025] Braden Roy: Indeed. And thank you to Morgan Stevens, who provides the voice of, well, a character that I will not share their name.

[01:25:53.710] Kent Bye: Cool. Well, I know you're in the middle of production here at Tribeca and there's people that may have been on this podcast, but are actually in the show, but I'm glad to at least capture a little bit of the backstory and all the other folks that have been involved. I've been seeing a lot of these different immersive theater pieces in VR over the years and as it's continued to evolve. And I think the thing that I see with Seventh Theory, Welcome to Respite, the whole production value and tying everything together, pushing the limits of what you can do in VRChat, but also this collective that you have of all these people of all these different backgrounds coming together and the way that you're organizing it and moving forward. I'm just excited to see where you take this all in the future. And I also just have to give a shout out that The credit sequence was absolutely amazing. We didn't talk about that at all. I just want to say that's sort of like a little bit of an Easter egg at the end, that if anybody who's seen I Expect You to Die by Shell Games, where they have... What I have seen is probably the bar in terms of the most epic opening credit sequence of any VR experience, but this is right up there on that same level of epic nature of the credits that you have. And this piece, but yeah, just overall this, the whole overall production of the quality and the story you're telling just really lands and works really well. And I'm excited to see where you take this all in the future, especially as you work with getting people onboarded and Oh, the other thing, the onboarding and offboarding was amazing as well. I didn't mention about that, but I just wanted to give a shout out the world coming in and then the world going out the whole sort of flow. You're starting to kind of refine all these little incremental pieces and solving those puzzles of, of how to really create an experience where you're onboarded and then offboarded. but in the middle, like really giving someone a full experience. So with that, I just wanted to thank each of you, Brayden, Witten, Andy, and Brian for joining me here on the podcast to be able to unpack it a little bit more. So that was Andy Eliseo. He's also known as Joker. He did a lot of programming, working with VR Chats SDK 3, and making a lot of tools for the actors. Also, Braden Roy, who's one of the co-founders of the Ferryman Collective. He did the VR adaptation. He's a performer and producer on the project, as well as Wynton Frank, a member of the Ferryman Collective, and previously a performer within The 100%s and The Tempest, but also a performer within Welcome to Respite, also doing some marketing and interviews and outreach. And then Brian Toll, he did some VR adaptation. He's a producer and also a world builder. So I have a number of different takeaways about this interview is that first of all, well, the experience of this piece is really using the affordances of VR in ways that I haven't necessarily seen in other immersive theater VR productions, lots of world building experience. And I think adding the sort of development of different shaders and special effects also makes a big influence whenever you're in these kind of immersive theater contexts. So, the ways in which the environment and the world around you starts to then leverage into the storytelling. So, really interesting to hear how their process of artistic direction was feeding into this larger set of world builders and experiential designers to be able to create what you see within Welcome to Respite. And also, a lot of the tools that Andy had to make in terms of the things behind the scenes that you don't even see, but there's a lot of ways in which they're leveraging the affordances of VRChat to be able to create interfaces for the actors to do. This is something that a lot of initial work that was done within under presents that I remember. and talking to producers of The Under Presents from Turner Claus at the Sundance Film Festival 2019, digging into a lot of the different special tools that they had developed just for the actors to be able to do all the different things. It's almost like they have superpowers in these virtual worlds to be able to control lots of different stuff. but because they want to try to keep it in a slim production, they don't want to have a lot of crew, then a lot of things that may be done by crew is all coded into these user interfaces and these buttons that are spread throughout this stage. So generally, that seems like an area that can be further developed and more tools for other productions to come along. It was really interesting to hear from Witten how if you want to do a big production of theater that you may reach out and you may get some set pieces. And so there's already this culture within theater of sharing resources for other people to put on their own own shows, but when you're building stuff in VR, you could literally share the original assets as well as the stages and just have other people do it, as well. I think that's the business model and economics of that. We're not at the point where everybody's just surely freeing all that different type of stuff. But I think in the long-term, that may be in the direction that we're headed. We'll see. There's a lot of time and energy and resources just to even put all that stuff together. But it is encouraging, I think, to blend a lot of the ethos and ethic of what is happening within the open source world. And this community, like the Prefabs community, has been a huge part of helping to get to the point where you have a community of people able to provide insights to someone like Andy slash Joker to be able to help program and put all these different tools together. Also, it was really striking to hear from Braden, living in South Dakota, really having this desire to have a lot of these experiences, but because he's not in New York City or in LA or anywhere there might be sufficiently enough of a community to put on an immersive theater production. He's had a watch from a distance, and so he's able to use the virtual reality technologies to be able to scratch his own itch there, and in the wake of the pandemic and all the stuff where people haven't traditionally been able to get together. Anyway, it's also been an opportunity to produce some of these pieces that would have been difficult to even have people come and see for a while there. Things are starting to open back up, and that's a whole other thing where we're transitioning out and going back into some of the things that are in real-life gatherings. For me, I'm going to the Augmented World Expo coming up here. and a couple of weeks and I'll be there on November 10th and 11th and that'll be kind of like one of the first VR and XR and AR gatherings that I've been able to go to. But as things start to open up a little bit more, as more and more people get vaccinated, then there is going to be more folks going back to some of these shows, but I think there's something within the culture of these productions that you're able to actually producing on a much tighter budget and you don't have to pay as much for rent, and there's just a wider audience, as well, potentially, based upon whatever you're producing, that are going to be able to see some of these different shows. Also, just some shout-outs to other previous productions with Turner Claus. There was obviously The Under Presents, and Tempest was a huge influence. There were connections to that specific production to a lot of people. Also, Kyra Benzing and what she did with Love Seed, as well as with Finding Pandora X. Just the influence for some of these previous shows. I have, actually, an unpublished interview with Kyra talking about Finding Pandora X that I hope to get out as well. There's an upcoming conference I'm going to be speaking at. It's called the PXR, the Performance XR Conference. It starts on Saturday, November 13th. I'm going to be giving the opening keynote there. So I'm going to hopefully get out a number of other conversations I've had about theater intersecting with virtuality. Just some pieces that I've been able to see at these different film festivals. Some of them have gone on to go on to have different runs. I think you may actually be able to go see Finding Pandora X. They've been having shows off and on. Certainly, at the Raindance Film Festival, there's some shows that you might be able to go see, Welcome to Respite. But there's some other stuff that I've been able to see that hasn't been widely available, but I think it's still worth digging into the conversation and my experiences to be able to pull out some of the different insights. I'll be trying to digest a lot of those different insights for what is the liveness of the live as a theme that comes up quite a bit in terms of Sometimes you may be doing a remote dance and it's live, but how do you know it's really live? And so I think there's different aspects of the interactivity that is a huge part of you believing that what is happening is real. And I think in a piece like this, where you're actually interacting with other actors and they're responding to you, you really get the sense that you're in a live context. And the piece that I was not able to remember was called Draw Me Close, which is a co-production between the National Film Board and the National Theater. And I have an unpublished interview with David Oppenheimer. talking about some of the aspects of that piece, which is that you're interacting with your mother and your mother at the end of that ends up giving you a hug. And they went on to actually produce a whole longer piece that I didn't get a chance to see the full production, but I just saw one of the sneak peeks of Tribeca in 2017. But for me, that was a case where it felt like, okay, you're interacting one-on-one with another actor, and there's this whole using the virtual reality technologies to be able to transport you into a whole other context. And so in that case, it was into the context of like a home. But I think the overarching point is that a piece like this, Welcome to Respite, does make you feel like you're with your parents in some ways. You're at a lower height, so you're able to actually control the height when you're in like a virtual chat environment, but also the interactions of this kind of parental interactions. Just the ability for these immersive theater pieces to be able to create those contexts and those interactions. The other thing is the level of authenticity about what's it feel like to actually have this associative identity disorder, as you have a piece of art that isn't directly being created by someone who is suffering from this condition. then the gap between the representation there of people being able to tell their own stories, or to take this type of condition and use it as an inspiration to be able to use the affordances of VR to be able to try to give a poetic interpretation of what that feels like. And I feel like that's more on the side of what they're doing, is that they're taking this as an experience to be able to then, with their background and having haunts and, you know, different ways of trying to create this sense of unsettledness within the user, they're trying ultimately to have you as an audience member feel something. And Wynton said, causing you to feel for yourself, that sense of dread, anxiety, paralysis, helplessness. And so, trying to boil it down to these larger archetypal themes, and then try to create an immersive experience that allows you to experience that. So, it's a little bit different than, say, a pure empathy piece that is trying to get you to experience the exact experience, but maybe trying to take components of that experience and then break it down into something that you may be able to translate into an experience. The onboarding and offboarding, I think, was also a big highlight in terms of just going into this world that feels like the after-party that you would go to. Sort of like in The Sleep No More, there would be this little area of the bar where you decompress and talk about it. This is a place to go get a little bit more context and information about what you just experienced. Not only the cast members who put it together, but also a whole rotunda that has different aspects of mental health and more information to dig into more about dissociative identity disorder. And just the final point is just what Andy said in terms of creating the feats of imagination and to create these thought experiments that allows you to really experience something, like an idea, before you're able to actually build it and just to give you the experience of something before it actually exists in concrete reality. But you can experience the dynamics of that within the virtualization and simulation of that, most often through the narrative aspects and the conceits of a story or a film. But in this case, it's an actual Embodied immersive experience where you start to do that type of future dreaming as well, so that's also a huge interest in mind as well And yeah, just interesting to hear a lot of the different processes, and we're the overarching intersections between immersive theater and the immersive XR virtuality augmented reality productions are at right now and And I hope to see a lot more of this communal sharing of resources to really build up a set of tools to make it just easier for people to jump in and start to produce their own productions. So that's all that I have for today. And I just wanted to thank you for listening to the Voices of VR podcast. And if you enjoy the podcast, then please do spread the word, tell your friends and consider becoming a member of the Patreon. This is a listener supported podcast. And so I do rely upon donations from people like yourself in order to continue to bring you this coverage. So you could become a member and donate today at patreon.com slash voice of er. Thanks listening

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