New Era of Innovative Theatre Experience Arrives at Dundee Rep

Dundee Rep, under commission by The Space and Creative Scotland, is teaming up with innovative Scottish production company, Neon8, to present a virtual reality (VR) experience of the Rep’s smash-hit, Smile, that charts the story of legendary Dundee United manager Jim McLean.

Following a successful sharing of the superb production of Smile with a live audience pre-pandemic and a multi-camera 2D filmed version in 2020/21, this will be an immersive sharing of the show for audiences around the world. The VR version will support a run of the show at Dundee Rep between 18th February and 11th March 2023.

Available from 23rd February 2023 to global audiences, the VR experience of Smile will be presented on Box Office VR, a unique VR player and no-subscription based platform developed by Neon8 and partners specifically for the arts industry to experiment with. The player provides a place where audiences who may not otherwise get to see certain shows, can experience a unique, immersive, 3D version of a production without leaving their home. VR film gives audiences that sense of being within the space and as the experience is 180° (VR180), all the action happens right in front of them, just like in a theatre. It is a gentle, passive, seated experience meaning those with limited mobility can partake. The Box Office VR experience supports mobile phone VR (iOS & Android) so all that’s needed is a mobile phone and a simple mobile headset.

Neon8 is a small production company, run by husband-and-wife team Kelman and Gemma Greig-Kicks who, for the last 9 years, have been producing quality, creative video content across the third sector, performing arts and technology industries with the last 2 years seeing them enter the world of immersive content and Virtual Reality.

 Focusing mainly on VR180 film, Neon8 have been working particularly with theatre producers and venues to help navigate this relatively new medium, highlighting the benefits from a creative point of view, but also how they may develop audiences who might not come to the theatre usually or who are unable due to various challenges.

In December 2021, they launched the beta version of Box Office VR with world first VR versions of shows for production companies and venues in Edinburgh  and London.

Kelman and Gemma from Neon8, that recently won The Innovation Award at the Creative Edinburgh Awards for Box Office VR said “Neon8 are delighted to be partnering with Dundee Rep on this commission by The Space and Creative Scotland, to create a virtual reality (VR) film of their acclaimed production of Smile, their wonderful tribute to the late, great Dundee United manager, Jim McLean. Whilst many people think VR is just for gamers or the totally tech-savvy, Neon8’s VR work for theatre does not require you to be up on your feet or taking part – nor do you need a dedicated VR headset to view it! …So, if you ever wondered what it felt like to be on the receiving end of one of Jim McLean’s trademark outbursts, this VR capture will give you that unique experience…”

Irene Brown

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