HURON – The Tribeca Film Festival is known around the world as a launching pad for the careers of writers, directors and actors. And this year’s festival, which ended on June 20, had a bit of Huron in its makeup.
“The Severance Theory: Welcome to Respite,” is the first in a planned four-part series that exploits the evolving field of live-action virtual reality. He was part of this year’s Immersive Theater part of the acclaimed festival and “Welcome to Respite” features Huron High School graduate Braden Roy as co-writer and adapter.
“The production was very well received at the festival,” Roy said from his home in Sioux Falls last week. “More than 300 people can participate and be part of the audience and participated in the production and we received a lot of feedback from both attendees and those who participated remotely via email after it was over.”
“Welcome to Respite,” follows the character of “Alex,” a child described as having a troubled past. At the risk of being a spoiler, the character visits his family’s home after his mother’s passing away and brings back forgotten childhood memories. But it’s not a flashback production, where the writer and director guide the viewer on a journey.
In this type of production, the viewer participates and, to some extent, guides the plot.
“The player, or in the case of Tribeca, a member of the audience, controls everything he does,” Roy said, “every move. If you turn your head or move your arm, that move is transferred to your avatar on the screen. “We set it up so that the production flows through the player ‘s actions and words.”
Two more people, associated with the game, play the other parts of the production, including mom and dad. Due to the live theatrical aspect of “Welcome to Respite”, other productions will be scheduled, when the entire event is available to the public. Learn more about this availability later.
Roy is the son of Duane and LeAnn Roy, and moved here from a very young age to Sioux Falls. He graduated from Huron High School in 2006.
Although he is an integral part of the production team – in addition to writing, Roy played a character during the festival – he did not travel to New York to take part. This is one of the huge advantages of doing things through virtual reality: you don’t have to be there to do it.
“Between being incredibly busy right now on our next project, as well as the unfamiliar prediction of a hotel’s Wi-Fi, it led me to stay home and participate remotely,” Roy said.
He noted that virtual reality itself has been around for a long time. “There were teachers somewhere who were creating a virtual world, but it was limited to that campus.”
Now, of course, the world of virtual reality has spread around the world and encompasses players of all ages. But what Roy and his team do breaks the norm of what is expected in any other game … or movie … or live theater … or.
“We just call them shows or productions,” he said with a laugh. “They’re not completely scripted, they’re live and the part you don’t play like Alex is played by people live. What we are doing is opening up new avenues, so we have the luxury of labeling it as we move forward. ”
“Welcome to Respite,” participants receive instructions and directions, and the production is a psychological thriller that helps and haunts people, through the goal of a mental illness called Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), which previously he was known as a multiple personality. disorder. The production is designed for entertainment, but the intention of the production team is to use the platform to promote the empathy of people with mental illness issues.
Roy added that it is about the things that are done and the waves of trauma that actions can take. And it has an effect on people.
“There was one woman who left comments that her involvement moved her to tears,” Roy said, “while another said there was a feeling of catharsis. And one person said she was able to sitting down and having a heart-to-heart discussion with his “father,” which he otherwise could not do, as his father has been very far away. “
Before “Welcome to Respite,” is Roy’s third production, who was the writer of two other titles, “FOR,” which is a horror experience at the intersection of immersive theater and virtual reality. After “PARA” came “Krampusnacht”, which takes a group of members of the public to a small Austrian village, to experience the Christmas festivities. An avalanche directs them and production increases in a struggle between the forces of light and darkness.
“I was the writer of the previous two productions,” Roy said, “And I wrote the second part of the separation theory.”
“Welcome to Respite” will be available to the general public to begin scheduled interactions, but this release will be delayed.
“Right now,” Roy said, “we’re being considered for some international film festivals, some of them well-known, and they’re not so interested in being able to come out to the general public early.”
So if people want to immerse themselves in Alex’s world at some point, how can they?
“I would suggest that anyone who is interested go to our website, www.welcometorespite.com, to look around and sign up to receive updates by email.” That way, he said, when the show premieres, people will know and be able to connect to the Internet and schedule an hour. “Anyone with a virtual reality headset can take part. And between $ 250 and $ 300, you’ll get a good headset. ”
As expected, most of those who interacted with the production during Tribeca were a little younger.
“Approximately 75% of Tribeca participants were over 30 years old,” Roy said. “And of that group, 25% are in their 40s and 50s.”
So when you’re not creating dark stories for your next project, what does Roy like to do when he tapes his virtual reality headset?
“Well, right now I have little free time,” he said, “but there’s a game called Beat Saber, where players have to cut blocks of pop-up colors with lightsabers in hand. Also” Tetris Effect, “a version of the original game, although with very interactive audio and visuals.
“All the stories I’ve written are a little dark – a lot of the people involved, myself included, are horror enthusiasts,” he said. “I’d like to tell other stories: focus on whim and take advantage of the RV aspects available in different ways.”
Roy encourages those who want to create in the world of virtual reality. Just start and move on.
“All the tools we used to create Welcome to Respite are completely free,” he said. “And there is a community that will guide you and help you learn and get involved. Dive into it. Don’t be intimidated. There really isn’t a wrong way to do it. “