The Theatre Reimagined – Introducing AR to the Stage

Key features

Far throw AR application

 

Toured across 50 theatres reaching 5000 audiences

 

Over 200 synced AR headsets

 

Winner of 2023 Nordic VR Awards

 

Winner of Norway 2023 Audience (NPU) Award

 

Winner of 2024 French LavalVirtual XR Awards

In a groundbreaking collaboration, three Norwegian theatres—Nordland Teater, Teater Vestland, and Teatret Vårt—have joined forces with Glitch Studios to create the first live stage theatre performance in Europe using augmented reality (AR).

This award winning, collaborative effort has resulted in a mesmerizing children’s play – ‘Briar & Rose.’ The production, incorporating cutting-edge technology, takes young audiences on a captivating journey through Fairytale land, where they interact with mythical creatures and dragons in an unprecedented theatrical experience.

The Experience

The children’s play ‘Briar & Rose’ is a first of its kind in Europe, blending augmented reality technology with live actors on stage, inviting audience members to delve into the world of Fairytale land and interact with its magical inhabitants. The audience are taken on a mesmerising journey through Fairtale land, exploring the enchanted forest, underwater world, and other environments while interacting with mythical creatures and dragons through augmented reality, as they help Briar & Rose save the Kingdom from disaster.

“Itʼs better than the best film I have ever seen!”
– Audience member aged 5

The Technology

This groundbreaking production was made possible by the collaboration between Glitch Studios and ARShow. ARShow, an augmented reality platform designed for mass audience applications in large auditoriums, gave Glitch a blank canvas to create virtual 3D animated objects, placing them alongside real actors on the physical stage. The technology simultaneously broadcasts over 250 audience member headsets, resulting in a seamless augmented reality experience that enchants younger and older audiences alike.

About Briar & Rose

The children’s play ʻBriar & Roseʼ is a first of its kind in Europe, blending augmented reality technology with live actors on stage, inviting audience members to delve into the world of Fairytale land and interact with its magical inhabitants.

What is Far Throw AR

While conventional AR typically involves interactions within arm’s reach, ‘Far Throw AR’ takes the experience to a grand scale. In the context of live theatre, it enables digital characters to seamlessly interact with live actors, covering the entire stage volume and the vast space between the stage and the audience. Leveraging Viewforia’s established AR tracking combined with ARShow’s Pinocchio platform, the production team established a networked system for controlled live execution, synchronizing and interacting with a group audience.

Use your mouse to move the slider to see the model and the final render

Dragora

Character Creation

The success of ‘Briar & Rose’ relies heavily on the mastery of Glitch in both 3D animation and AR development. The digital dragon, Dragora, serves as a prime example of the intricate character creation required for this project. To seamlessly blend with living actors, Dragora needed to embody a presence and vitality equal to, if not greater than, her flesh-and-blood counterparts. This necessitated the involvement of one of the best character animators in Europe to bring this captivating creature to life on stage.

“It wasnʼt good, it was double good! No, double-double good!”
– Audience member aged 6

Audience Reach

The ‘Briar & Rose’ project has shattered norms by pioneering a new form of collective AR immersion for theaters at scale in Europe and was recognised as such by winning the 2023 Nordic XR Arts & Culture and 2023 Jury Choice Awards and the French LavalVirtual XR Awards in 2024. With a successful tour across 50 venues, engaging over 5000 audience members aged 5 and up in 2023, the production is set for a second tour in 2025, aiming to reach a total audience number of 8000. This mass AR experience is not confined to a single location, allowing it to span multiple venues and connect with thousands of spectators.

In the realm of live theatre, ‘Briar & Rose’ stands as a testament to the fusion of technology and artistic expression, paving the way for a new era in theatrical experiences. As the curtains rise on the enchanted world of Fairytale land, audiences find themselves immersed in a world where dragons and fairies coexist with live actors, creating an unforgettable and groundbreaking theatrical adventure for both young and old alike. The success of this project not only underscores the potential of augmented reality in live performances but also highlights the importance of pushing creative boundaries to captivate audiences in entirely new ways.

Interview with Briar & Rose Theatre – Cecilie Lundsholt