National Theatre to produce virtual reality shows

The National Theatre. Photo: Philip Vile The National Theatre. Photo: Philip Vile
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The National Theatre is to commission new work for virtual reality headsets.

It will create an immersive storytelling studio as part of the NT’s new work department, will examine how virtual reality and 360-degree films can “widen and enhance the National’s remit to be a pioneer of dramatic storytelling”.

The first project to be produced is an immersive, 360-degree, verbatim documentary, HOME: AAMIR, which tells the story of a refugee living at the Calais migrant camp. It will premiere at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2016.

The film, a collaboration between the NT, VR film production company Surround Vision and arts technology group Room One, is the first in a series, which will explore stories of refugees who have been living in Calais.

The documentary will be voiced by actor Sule Rimi, and has been created from an interview by verbatim writer Suhayla El Bushra, who is writer in residence at the NT.

It is directed by Rufus Norris, Toby Coffey – head of digital development at the National – and Erfan Saadati, head of VR production at Surround Vision.

Norris said: “HOME: AAMIR is part of our ambition to tell the most compelling contemporary stories and give a voice to the issues of today. Displacement and migration are defining themes of our time, which we as a society have to understand and come to terms with. To engage with that through this 360-degree project is hugely important.”

The NT has also announced that the studio will host a two-week residency by multimedia artist Oscar Raby, as well as collaborating with National Film Board Canada on a research and development lab for non-fiction VR.