#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