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The UK’s first VR theatre is coming to Battersea this September

Wandsworth Council has teamed up with LIVR — the world’s first VR streaming service focused on the theatre and performing arts — and VR headset makers Pico to offer Nine Elms residents exclusive access to a VR theatre. 

Nine Elms, a place in Battersea, will see the first-of-its-kind Pilot experienced in the R.O.S.E community centre, which is located on the Savona Estate in Battersea this Autumn, as a pilot. It’ll sit eight people at a time, but will let local residents engage with performing arts in a way that has previously been difficult short of actually being there. 

This is one of the real consumer benefits to virtual reality: letting people experience things that otherwise they wouldn’t be able to. With a VR headset on, with a 360 degree field of view, it’ll be as good as if they are right there in the audience with the help of the standalone Pico headsets.

Better, the entire LIVR library is available, so it’s not a case of merely watching something happening elsewhere as it happens, but a case of ducking into the space and checking out anything from the on-demand library. 

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The library will be constantly updated, and should feature works from both emerging artists and well established productions, from a wide variety of sources. Users can drop the headset on and get right to the front row of the audience.

 Councillor Steffi Sutters, Wandsworth Council’s Cabinet member for Community Services and Open Spaces, said in a press release: “I’m thrilled that theatre shows are coming direct to local residents through this incredible virtual reality experience. As arts and culture grows in Nine Elms, it’s fantastic that we can bring performing arts into the heart of the community and I hope as many Nine Elms residents as possible sign up to put a headset on and watch a performance.

“We’re really looking forward to starting regular VR viewing nights, which, alongside our new Community Theatre Tickets scheme in partnership with Battersea Arts Centre and Theatre 503, will offer residents plenty of affordable ways to enjoy live theatre this autumn.”

It’ll kick off on a weekly basis from Wednesday, 25 September, but if this works it could be exciting to see similar ideas kicked off by councils across the UK.

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