New project delivers virtually reality theatre to Praguers’ homes

Hamleti, photo: Jan Čermák, Brainz Studios / Brejlando

An innovative new project is helping Prague theatres hit hard by the Covid situation, bringing productions by top companies via “take-away” virtual reality headsets delivered to people’s homes by courier. I discussed Brejlando – which is supported by the City of Prague – with Robin Pultera of creators Brainz Studios.

“Brejlando is a new service with a mission to bring a new type of theatre experience to theatre fans.

“It works in the way that you choose one of the specially-crafted immersive theatre plays that we recorded, on our website.

Hamleti,  photo: Jan Čermák,  Brainz Studios / Brejlando

“You grab a ticket for a concrete day and night. But on that day you do not head out to the theatre like you would normally do, but our delivery service brings a special package all the way to the comfort of your home.

“What you’ll find inside is a virtually reality headset that contains that theatre play, which you can enjoy at home.

“The next morning our delivery service comes to pick it up again and brings it back to us.

“The content is unique, because we didn’t want to just record existing theatre plays in their original form.

“But we really wanted to adjust them, so they are the most immersive they can be in VR as possible.”

How complicated was it to create these immersive 3D plays?

“Actually, we have been working with virtual reality for the past four or five years and had a lot of experience from recording live music shows and other things.

“So when we decided to start this project we kind of knew which direction to go in.

“But we were mostly worried about how would the theatres and the artists themselves accept the medium; it feels very ‘techy’ and might feel like competition to regular theatres and things like that.

“So we had to approach them very carefully, and I have to say that thanks to our creative producer, Petr Hanousek – who was working with the theatres from the beginning, kind of guiding them through how we want to approach this in VR and what it can bring to the theatres – they accepted it very positively.

“And it was really great cooperation and I think the result is really amazing.”

I was thinking that theatre audiences could also be a little bit conservative. Do you have any fears that they may be reluctant to try something relatively new like 3D, and also something really quite different from a normal theatre experience?

“We are starting this week, and we are really looking forward to audience feedback.

“We’ve only had one or two weeks of testing on some small groups, so a lot of questions are still unanswered.

“But I think what we feel so far is, yes, some people are kind of careful in terms of like, Is the technology easy enough for me to use? Am I going to be able to use it myself at home without being used to using a complex technology like that?

“And in those terms we really tried to use the simplest VR headset there is, with easy to control button – and to give people an easy guide, which they get as part of the packaging, to guide them through the experience.”

Brejlando is supported financially by the City of Prague.