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Diss audiences to dive into immersive underwater theatre show using VR headsets

PUBLISHED: 15:18 17 October 2018 | UPDATED: 15:18 17 October 2018

Norwich-based theatre company Curious Directive are bringing their show Frogman to Diss. Picture: Curious Directive

Norwich-based theatre company Curious Directive are bringing their show Frogman to Diss. Picture: Curious Directive

Archant

Get ready to don your virtual reality headset and dive into an acclaimed theatre show that places you at the centre of underwater adventure.

Diss audiences will wear VR headsets to experience immersive show Frogman. Picture: Curious DirectiveDiss audiences will wear VR headsets to experience immersive show Frogman. Picture: Curious Directive

After garnering rave reviews for their London run, Norfolk science and theatre company Curious Directive bring their immersive theatre piece Frogman to Diss Corn Hall this month.

Described as a coming-of-age thriller, it combines live performance with 360 degree virtual reality and headsets with binaural sound.

“I like to think you won’t have seen anything like it before,” said Jack Lowe, the artistic director of the Norwich-based company and the director of Frogman.

Lily, Meera and Shaun in immersive VR show Frogman which is coming to Diss. Picture: Curious DirectiveLily, Meera and Shaun in immersive VR show Frogman which is coming to Diss. Picture: Curious Directive

“It is half VR, half live performance. You see live performance first, a scene with the live actor, and then VR, and then you dip in and out of VR and live performance while on rotating swivel chairs,” he said.

“The idea of scuba diving and putting on a mask felt like a good analogy to putting on a mask for VR - and when you do it feels like you are really hovering over the corals.”

Despite the focus on experimenting with new ways of using digital technology, Jack is keen to point out that at the heart of the show is a strong storyline.

Norwich-based theatre company Curious Directive are bringing their show Frogman to Diss. Picture: David Monteith-Hodge/PhotograpNorwich-based theatre company Curious Directive are bringing their show Frogman to Diss. Picture: David Monteith-Hodge/Photograp

Set in Australia in 1995, Frogman sees 11-year-old Meera enjoying her first sleepover, but when it is time for lights out her aquarium begins to glow and outside over the reef a police diver - or frogman - is looking for traces of a missing child.

“The major thing really is it’s coming of age thriller,” Jack said. “It’s a baby step into what could be the future of digital performance but what I keep saying is there’s a really solid story behind it.”

He explained further: “There’s one actor on stage and she’s playing a coral reef scientist, and in the opening scene there’s a detective who informs her that her father has been charged with the murder of a child in the mid-1990s. It’s a crime thriller in that sense. It is really about how much as a child she saw what happened in 1995. It’s that thing of the things you remember as opposed to the things what actually happened.”

Norwich-based theatre company Curious Directive are bringing their show Frogman to Diss. Picture: David Monteith-Hodge/PhotograpNorwich-based theatre company Curious Directive are bringing their show Frogman to Diss. Picture: David Monteith-Hodge/Photograp

VR was the key to taking the audience back in time and out onto the coral reef. “VR is amazing for that...in the theatre it gives you a portal into a totally different world, you are so immersed in that world,” he said.

“It’s really interesting, a lot of people have been talking about it as a watershed moment for the future of theatre, the use of VR as a tool for storytelling.”

Jack said the show - which was first inspired by him wanting to set a show in a coral reef because he had never seen that done before - was three years in the making and involved working with an array of marine and theatre specialists.

Norwich-based theatre company Curious Directive are bringing their show Frogman to Diss. Picture: Curious DirectiveNorwich-based theatre company Curious Directive are bringing their show Frogman to Diss. Picture: Curious Directive

It also involved him learning to scuba dive so he could do underwater film shoots in Australia and also Indonesia.

“I went to Raja Ampat in Indonesia because the corals are still healthy there whereas as in Australia they are bleached,” Jack explained.

“The story doesn’t look at climate change specifically but it is located in a time when the [Great Barrier Reef] corals were in a better condition.”

• Frogman is at Diss Corn Hall on October 23 and 24, 2pm and 7.30pm both days, £11, £7 under-18s, 01379 652241, disscornhall.co.uk

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