Virtual Reality (VR) offers potential for theatre makers to rehearse remotely in settings which are uniquely immersive. In collaboration with a major drama school in the United Kingdom, a longitudinal diary study was completed to examine the utility of consumer-grade VR for theatre rehearsals. Utilising commonly affordable headsets and general-purpose Social VR applications, 10 experienced students (2 directors, 8 actors) rehearsed scenes in VR over 3 weeks, before performing them in person. Participants detailed their experiences in diary logs and interviews, expressing the ability to work through spatial arrangements (blocking) as a full body avatar to be positively beneficial. Limitations included the absence of facial expressions and gestural nuance. Our overarching conclusion is that low-tech VR can be a useful aid in theatre rehearsals and early stages of production. In conclusion we outline design recommendations for a) using VR in theatre production and b) research and development of Social VR.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI 2023 - Extended Abstracts of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
ISBN (Electronic)9781450394222
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2023
Event2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2023 - Hamburg, Germany
Duration: 23 Apr 202328 Apr 2023

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings


Conference2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. The Drama Directing MA Students, Tobias Millard and Eleanor Stevens and all participating actors, program directors Nik Partridge and Jenny Stephens. Martin Parsons, and Pooya Soltani from the University of Bath for continued involvement and support. This work was supported by Bristol and Bath Creative R&D funded by the AHRC Creative Industries Cluster Programme (AH/S002936/1). For more information on the project and its partners, visit our website: https://bristolbathcreative.org/


  • acting
  • avatars
  • presence
  • remote rehearsals
  • social interaction
  • theatre rehearsals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Software


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