Virtual reality

OSF’s virtual reality pop-up opens Wednesday, Thursday at Black Swan Theater | News

ASHLAND, Ore. — Two days of performances remain available today and tomorrow for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s virtual reality pop-up theater.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) says today its “Virtual Reality Pop-Up” theater experience at OSF’s Black Swan Theater welcomes people in-person for any of five performances today and tomorrow, starting 10am to 5pm.

The program involves three theatrical experiences created for the inaugural 2021 edition of Quills Fest.

Quills Fest is OSF’s new immersive digital festival mixing “live theater and extended reality.” It says, “The Virtual Reality Pop-Up offers an opportunity for visitors to immerse themselves in a broad spectrum of theatrical explorations of the VR medium, ranging from 360-degree film to interactive, gamified narrative journeys, all through state-of-the -art VR headsets.”

OSF says it has limited timed-entry tickets for 10am, 11am, 12pm, 4pm and 5pm performances July 13 and 14, as the experience’s last two planned days.

It says the tickets can be purchased online at this link and at the Black Swan theater in-person pending availability. The pop-up theater program occurs at the virtual reality lab in OSF’s Black Swan Theater, 15 S. Pioneer Street in Ashland.

Quills Fest is an annual festival presenting “cutting-edge world premiere VR and immersive technology projects from interdisciplinary teams of theatermakers and creative technologists. Quills Fest embodies OSF Artistic Director Nataki Garrett’s vision for the future of OSF and the theater field—one in which multimodal , mixed-discipline artistry and the development of new work are central. Quills Fest and this Virtual Reality Pop-Up are produced by OSF’s Innovation & Strategy team.”

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The three projects showcased in this season’s virtual reality pop-up productions are listed by OSF as:

Guardian of the Night

Grandpa Ayite – Lead Artist

Michael Joseph McQuilken – Lead Artist

Joel ‘Kachi Benson – Lead Artist

Michael Thurber – Composer and Sound Designer

Jennifer Harrison Newman – Movement

Tyler Alexander Arnold – PA set

Costumes Built by The Public Theater Costume Shop in New York

Within a number of West African traditions, there is a belief in spiritual guardians known as Zangbeto, Coumpo or Kwagh-hir. These beings act as spiritual guardians and emerge in a whirlwind of energy during festivals to speak to the people.

Guardian of the Night creates a virtual reality experience that immerses the viewer in a dark, unfamiliar forest. A guardian appears and, through dance and movement, illuminates and guides the viewer. Raffia and a variety of recycled materials (solid worldly materials) are used to create the body of this otherworldly guardian, who appears only for a brief moment to reflect our existence back to us, and in so doing help us find our way. The work is an exploration of movement, and an embodiment of our oneness with the earth and nature.


You Defoe – Creative Director

Dov Heichmer – Creative Co-Director

alpha_rats – Developer

Clara Luzian – 3D Artist

Suzanne Kite and Devin Ronnenberg – Music

Anakwad is an Anishinaabe tale brought to life in an Indigiqueer dreamscape summoning the shapeshifter queer ghost as it nullifies linear time and learns to unlock syllabic truths to regain balance in the destructive destiny of now.

Ordinary Gesture

Raja Feather Kelly – Lead Artist, Writer, Co-Director

Illya Szilak – Co-Director, Creative Producer

Cyril Tsiboulski – Art Director, Technical Director, Lead Developer

Christoph Mateka – Sound Design & Score Composition

Ordinary Gesture is a virtual reality theatrical experience that intersects theater, meditation, and movement. It seeks to surrealize the experience of empathy by situating the player in five scenes that expand from their body to space-time (the universe) and back again. Inspired by the movies Magnolia, Melancholyand Waking Lifethe poem “You Are Never Ready” by Nicole Blackman, and the writing of cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker, Ordinary Gesture asks the player to contemplate existence, suffering, compassion, and gesture as both ingredients to create theater and a means to perhaps better understand empathy.

OSF also launched O! in 2020 as a digital stage featuring performances of art and discussions accessed from anywhere in the world. OSF says O! attracts more than 10,000 views per month from audience members in more than 50 countries.


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