New Play At Penobscot Theatre Company Explores Healing Power Of Virtual Reality Technology

BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - We may think of virtual reality as a game or play thing, but it can also be used therapeutically.

A new play at the Penobscot Theatre Company is exploring the healing power of virtual reality technology.

"This virtual reality therapy was totally mind blowing, especially in that it is something that is not only happening worldwide but is happening right here in our community," said Bari Newport of the Penobscot Theatre Company.

We've seen it used for gaming, but it can also be used for therapy.

The very technology that tricks the brain into believing that you're elsewhere can be employed to reduce pain.

It's an interesting field that Lindsey Ferrentino's "Ugly Lies The Bone" is exploring at the Penobscot Theatre Company.

"We wanted to be able to create space where the audience is seeing what she's seeing in the virtual reality, but also getting a glimpse into her life outside virtual reality," explained Production Manager, Tricia Hobbs.

"Unless you put the headset on, it is tough to describe it. We're trying to get that across with the visuals that are on stage," said Chuck Carter of Eagre Games. "There's actually a lot of value in this kind of therapy."

The drama follows Jess, a wounded young veteran, who finds hope and healing through virtual reality therapy.

In partnership with the Maine Science Festival, the play offers a point for community discussion about modern technology and the complex issues that arise from modern warfare.

"I hope that people are able to have an appreciation both for the art we are creating and producing here, but also for the science and advancement that this brings to the people affected by it and using it in the world," said Hobbs.

Chuck Carter and his team at Eagre Games have been hard at work for the last couple weeks creating the virtual world for the main character.

"We filmed the actress inside the world with the headset on so, her reactions were very real as to what she was actually seeing when she has the headset on and what you see on stage," said Carter.

While this is the first full production the theatre has done with virtual reality, Carter says it is the way of the future.

"You can create very expansive worlds very quickly and easily," explained Carter. "I mean, it's something that is a new technology and it's barely scratched the surface on what it can do, and what people can use it for."