Immersive Shakespeare and local UAE folktales? Epson and ToDA will bring them to life

Dubai - Demand will be strong for social events and concerts, especially with immersive technologies, as restrictions are being lifted


Rohma Sadaqat

Published: Wed 9 Jun 2021, 1:05 PM

Last updated: Wed 9 Jun 2021, 5:23 PM

A fully immersive production of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth or stories that celebrate the spirit of Hag Al Laila?

Visitors at the Theatre of Digital Art (ToDA) in Dubai can expect to see these and many more beloved masterpieces brought to life in the near future, as demand for immersive experiences accelerates across the UAE and GCC region. New research commissioned by Epson has revealed that there will be a strong ‘bounce back’ for the events industry as restrictions continue to be lifted in the Middle East. The research was designed with the assistance of Professor Steven Taylor, an expert on the impact of pandemics on social behaviour, and suggests that the UAE and Saudi Arabia markets will be more inclined to attend social events, such as concerts, visitor attractions, and immersive technological experiences.

The survey revealed that 87 per cent of event-loving consumers across the EMEA region are planning to go to the same or a greater number of technologically enhanced events and attractions as restrictions are being lifted – out of which 64 per cent resonated with the sentiment that technologically enhanced events ‘Make Me Happy’ or are ‘Good for My Soul’. Among Middle East respondents, 75 per cent have missed going to technologically enhanced events and attractions during the lockdown, with Saudi Arabia being the highest with 80 per cent followed by 69 per cent in the UAE. More than 70 per cent of respondents in the Middle East cannot wait for their life to get back to normal – like in 2019.

“The survey indicates that the overwhelming majority of people are eager to resume their pre-pandemic social lives, which includes attending live experiential events,” Professor Steven Taylor said. “This underscores the fact that people are resilient and that most will bounce-back to their pre-pandemic levels of socialising, regardless of how they are feeling right now.”

Speaking to Khaleej Times at the event, Neil Colquhoun, VP of CISMEA, Epson Europe, spoke about how Epson and ToDA had been working together to bring immersive experiences to residents across the UAE. The Theatre of Digital Art is using Epson’s state-of-the-art projectors for the ‘Being Van Gogh’ - a multi-sensory, multi-media immersive exhibition of Van Gogh’s paintings in Souk Madinat Jumeirah.

“We have been working with ToDA for over a year now,” he said. “They wanted to increase that impact that they were seeing. The technology that Epson has gives you this really bright, punchy image. When you are inside, you feel like you are part of the event and you are drawn into it.”

“Immersive events are getting better and bigger in this region, especially in the UAE and KSA markets,” he added. “We spent a lot of time talking to experts and customers; we did a survey before the pandemic and another one right now, and the majority of them told us that they want to pay more to experience such events.”

Epson is the world’s leading manufacturer of projectors, with over a third share of the global projector market – and its high lumenlaser projectors have been used to create immersive and interactive experiential environments. Colquhoun said that residents can expect to see much more of the technology in the coming months. “Expo 2020 Dubai is another live event where you can expect to see our projector technology being used across various pavilions. We spend around $1.5 million on R&D every day; our turnover is around $10 billion and we are constantly in the top 100 global innovators. We believe in reinvesting a lot of out profit back into technology, and the results really speak for themselves.”

Vicki Galloway-Place, artistic director at ToDA, spoke about the success of the ‘Being Van Gogh’ show with audiences. “The event is really picking up since its opening; people are becoming more confident about stepping outside because of the success of the Covid-19 vaccine drive. We want to bring more art and immersive experiences to people. The 360 degree experience takes events to a whole new level; we want people to have this unique experience with the art, the images, the music, and the actors.”

She also added that ToDA has lots more in store for visitors for the summer period, and in the near future. “There is soo much we can do - theatre is limitless and timeless. We want to bring in immersive Shakespeare plays, and we are also interested in working on local productions which showcase the history and culture of the UAE and the region. There are so many local folk tales that we can bring to life.”

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