Immersive technology is radically changing the way theatre is being enjoyed, thinks Sarah Ellis of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC).

Writers and producers are approaching and creating content differently and, through engaging new tools and new technologies, are looking at stories in a different way.  The immersive technology and techniques are allowing us to build a new world around us and consider characters differently.

Theatre has always been immersive.  But new types of immersive technology are enabling theatre to build similar types of stories but deliver them in way that is new, exciting and engaging.

It provides an opportunity for theatre makers who have been creating amazing theatre productions for a long time to use new tools and new thinking to engage new audiences.

The future of theatre is exciting.

Audiences want to experience real-time, live experiences and choose how they engage with this.  Super Live brings audiences to a new destination.  As we all know, the best storytelling feature of any theatre production is the actor, but having new, innovative technology takes the storytelling to a different level.  Theatre will take on the technology that is useful for it.  It will create new makers and encourage individuals who never considered theatre as a medium for storytelling to create content for theatre using the new technologies available to them.

The technology has created a generation shift for theatre.

It brings different generations together in a positive way.   Theatre audiences will always want the authenticity of storytelling and being able to meaningfully relate to the story, however the technology makes audiences curious and at points, excited.  It brings in new audiences who previously didn’t think theatre was for them and it increases the way we share stories.  Ultimately the technology helps to emphasise who created the story, amplifies whose story we are telling, makes the experience diverse and interesting and provides a platform on which to share the content on a local, national and international scale.

In terms of future of immersive technologies, I believe Games Engine is delivering exciting results in production and is having the most impact.  Tempest2016 was made in a Games Engine and the convergence of it on stage was truly amazing.  Anyone making content on a VR headset is creating experiences that are really exciting and different.

For individuals working in theatre who want to explore immersive tech in their practice, I would encourage them to collaborate and learn from others, to build a wide repository of resources, to not make assumptions but talk, share and engage with others around your ideas and take their feedback on board.  That way you will make something truly amazing and very different.

The RSC are a founder member of Immerse UK.

Having an organisation that brings the right people round the table to collaborate, share challenges and opportunities and broker discussions really makes a difference.  Being part of Immerse UK helps RSC feel part of a larger community and provides the opportunity for us to work collaboratively.  It provides a space to work in solidarity but at the same time not feel like you are working alone.  I would encourage other organisations to become part of the Immerse UK network and help us grow and evolve this exciting sector for immersive technology to help showcase the UK’s talent on a global stage.

Hear more from Sarah Ellis

You can hear more from Sarah Ellis and other leading figures across the immersive tech sector on our About Immerse UK video.