A new theatre experience: MR headsets × kabuki performance|News|KABUKI WEB

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December 23 ,2022

A new theatre experience: MR headsets × kabuki performance

In October 2022, a test run of the latest MR (Mixed Reality) technology took place at the Osaka Shochikuza Theatre.

Shochiku has long been an innovator in next generation entertainment, and as part of that work it has been engaging in the introduction of digital technology for live entertainment, such as theatre performances. When MR technology is brought to stage plays, the “real” and “digital” elements intersect, transcending the stage’s physical limitations and realizing performances that were previously impossible.

Participants were invited to the Osaka Shochikuza Theatre’s October program “J Horror Kabuki” for this new kabuki-viewing experience. While watching the performance, they wore Microsoft HoloLens 2 headsets, an MR headset produced by Microsoft.

As the performance began, MR imagery was displayed on top of the actual theatre space, allowing participants to see superimposed text that included the explanation of the characters, play highlights and subtitles. English subtitles were also prepared because the company aims to include a wide range of customers, such as foreigners who are unfamiliar with kabuki, enhancing their theatergoing experience in the future. Additionally, this could also be a beneficial service creating an easily accessible environment for people with hearing impairment.

View from the MR headset: The performance title is superimposed onto the kabuki curtain.
View from the MR headset: Acts and explanations are indicated without interfering with the stage space.

Positive comments were given after the viewing: “I very much enjoyed it. There would have been parts I didn’t understand, but I was able to grasp everything easily due to the explanations, and immerse myself fully into the performance”, said one of the participants. “There were times I used to miss some information when using (audio) guides, but the visual information on the headset allowed me to absorb all the necessary things, which made me enjoy the contents thoroughly”.

The kabuki viewing experience and the explanation of MR is introduced on YouTube, so if you are interested please take a look!