“THE CALLING VR: A Musical Virtual Reality Experience” by Ilongwe and Sepulveda

  • ©Alani Ilongwe and Christopher Sepulveda


Entry Number: 16


    THE CALLING VR: A Musical Virtual Reality Experience



    In the three plus years since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down Broadway and regional theaters across the United States, many performing arts institutions are slowly working their way back to pre-pandemic levels in terms of annual revenue [Weinert, 2023]. During this period, many theaters turned to sliding scale ticket models [Mangi, 2022] and hybrid in-person/streamed theater seasons to combat increased inflation related production costs [Vincentelli, 2021].

    As we use the lessons learned from the pandemic shutdown to shape the future of American theater, there is a golden opportunity for musical theater producers to embrace virtual reality (VR) technology to reduce development and production related expenses ahead of staging their next musical for a live audience.

    The Calling: A Musical VR Experience serves as an immersive historical fantasy inspired by the events that transpired during the infamous Memphis Sanitation Strike of 1968. Created in Unity for Oculus Quest I, II, and The Rift S, The Calling was developed as a “guided experience” serving as the prologue for a larger historical musical currently under development with the Tony Award winning producing team at Apples & Oranges Studios.


    1. Rob Weinert. 2023. “If You Rebuild It, Will They Return?” American Theatre, 20 March 2023, https://www.americantheatre.org/2023/03/20/if-you-rebuild-it-will-they-return/.
    2. Jordan Mangi. 2022. “Regional theaters struggle to recover from COVID closures.” Marketplace.org, 31 October 2022, https://www.marketplace.org/2022/10/31/regional-theaters-struggle-to-recover-from-covid-closures/.
    3. Elizabeth Vincentelli. 2021. “As Venues Reopen, Will Streamed Theater Still Have a Place?” The New York Times, 18 August 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/18/theater/streaming-theater-future.html.

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