Arena Theatre Company will unveil a new show in March after spending much of the coronavirus lockdown developing it.
Heart VR will combine theatre and virtual reality for audiences of six at a time.
Arena artistic director Christian Leavesley said the idea came about when the company was able to experiment with a University of Melbourne learning tool that was a fully functioning, virtual heart.
"They stripped it of the learning functions and gave us this heart that was fully detailed with valves pumping and directional sound," he said. "We could make it as big or as small as we wanted.
"We spent time experimenting with it. There's no literal heart (involved) anymore but that's what got us started."
Heart VR shows will run for 25 minutes for six audience members at a time. Mr Leavesley said the production is part theatre show and part ride.
"The first half is a theatre show, so it's traditional theatre with a twist," he said. "The second half you go into virtual reality and it's an interactive, crazy thing. It's feels like a ride because you go into this virtual reality that takes you to a whole other place.
"We have always been about quality over quantity. Young audiences really love immersive work and don't mind being one of a group of six. The whole thing is about 25 minutes but the funny thing about VR is it could be hours. Time feels funny in virtual reality sometimes."
Arena have partnered with Bendigo Pride Festival to launch the show. It will run as part of the Bendigo Pride Festival with sessions between March 13 and 18.
"Bendigo Pride Festival is themed around identity and who we are at heart," Mr Leavesley said . In discussing that with (pride festival director) John Richards, he agreed the themes of our work really spoke well to Bendigo Pride Festival."
Mr Richards said Heart VR is exactly the sort of clever, innovative and compassionate work we want Bendigo to be known for.
"We want Bendigo Pride to be a place where new ideas and projects can be developed, and our local community supported and strengthened," he said.
"We're so proud of Arena's collaboration with LGBTQIA+ youth and gender-diverse artists for this exciting work and can't wait to experience the finished result."
Mr Leavesley said this was the first time Arena had made a virtual reality-based show public.
"We have worked with it before," he said. "The first time was six or seven years ago but it has taken that long to make a show that we though was theatrical enough.
"It has taken years and years to find something we thought was worthy of Arena's audience."
Heart VR is on from March 13 to 18 at The Engine Room in View Street, Bendigo. each show has six participants at a time. tickets are $10.
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