The National Theatre is set to open a dazzling new digital exhibition this week, which will be the biggest interactive installation the theatre has ever done. Enter wonder.land is a free, digital exhibition inspired by the theatre's new musical of the same name, which will be held within the Wolfson Gallery at the theatre, and opens this Thursday (December 2). A vivid reimagining of the classic Alice in Wonderland tale, wonder.land has been created by an impressive and diverse range of artists including Moira Buffini, Rufus Norris and Blur/Gorillaz frontman (and pop's leading renaissance man) Damon Albarn. Using Lewis Carroll's surreal original novel as a basis, it aims to combine the virtual and real worlds, turning the book’s concept of the rabbit hole into the internet, and character of Alice into a 21st century school girl who immerses herself in a psychedelic online game.
The complementary exhibition features nine interactive installation pieces, and is a collaboration between several teams. The National Theatre’s digital team created the concept, while in-house designers Rae Smith and Tom Paris created the set design and consultancy Play Nicely developed the software for the majority of the digital installations. 59 Productions, which produced the projections and CGIs for the musical, meanwhile, created special effects, while Mogees helped to produce the exhibition's sound installations and Room One assisted with production. With a dream team of this size and skill at the helm, it should really make for something truly impressive.
Enter wonder.land is a free, digital exhibition inspired by the theatre's new musical of the same name, which will be held at the National Theatre's Wolfson Gallery
Installations within the exhibition include a virtual reality Oculus Rift experience that allows viewers to fall down the virtual rabbit hole to wonder.land; a Mad Hatter’s sound installation which turns any object into a musical instrument; a face-tracking magic mirror wall; and an avatar builder where audiences can create their own avatars and share them via social media. The National Theatre is also currently collaborating with a 3D printing company, which would allow viewers to order a 3D model of their avatar. The musical is also set to travel to Paris next year, and the interactive exhibition will follow suit, possibly in an outside theatre space.
According to Tobey Coffey, head of digital at the National Theatre, the aim of the exhibition is to enables viewers to engage with the set pieces. He said: “There were two strands to our thinking. The first is an opportunity for the wonder.land audience to engage with the set in a way that they normally wouldn’t, and the second is that these digital components will bring them so much closer to the performance itself. We wanted to use digital to put people in a place they’d never been to before. This will be many viewers’ first time using virtual reality. We’re trying to push the world to the stage, to those front of house spaces, and create strong connections with the show.” Of the decision to stage the exhibition at the theatre, he added: “We wanted the exhibition to be in the National Theatre space, because we wanted it to be part of the experience of going to see the show. Then viewers get even more immersed in the show, and it enhances the experience even more.”
The complementary exhibition features nine interactive installation pieces, and is a collaboration between several teams
Enter wonder.land will run until 30 April 2016 at the Wolfson Gallery, National Theatre, London SE1 9PX, daily from 12pm. Entrance is free too, so if you're a Londoner looking for something a little different to amuse the kids with this Christmas, we couldn't think of a more fitting (and more interesting) way to compliment the magic and chaos of the festive season!