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    Actors learned to sword-fight in VR. Here, Westley duels with Prince Humperdinck and Count Rugen, as Princess Buttercup looks on. 

     

    Rec Room Cue the preshow jitters

     

    Shaun Hansen looked out at the audience that gathered to watch a stage adaptation of The Princess Bride, featuring him as the male lead, Westley -- you know, Cary Elwes' role in the 1987 cult classic. 

     

    Hansen, 36, of Denver, took a few deep breaths before the curtain rose. He'd been preparing for this a long time. The nerves were for naught. The audience laughed and applauded throughout the 82-minute production, put on by the Orange Bucket Acting Troupe. 

     

    This was no ordinary amateur theater production staged in a borrowed middle school gym. The curtain, for example, was virtual. The performance itself took place in Rec Room, a free pop slots chips app from developer Against Gravity. The app lets people enter virtual spaces as avatars, where they play paintball, dodgeball and disc golf while strapped into VR headsets. The Orange Bucket Acting Troupe -- 12 cast and crew members from around the world -- pulled off what's likely the first full-length play performed in VR.  

     

    "I had a huge grin on my face the whole time," Hansen said of the first of four performances that ran in late September and early October. "It's a good thing I was in VR because it would've been really hard to keep a straight face."

     

    Now playing: Watch this: Skydiving in VR is ridiculous and fun 3:23 VR isn't new technology. But it's only been in the past five years or so that it finally started to catch up to the dream of creating immersive environments, from virtual history lessons to stage productions. Emphasis on the word "started," since there's still a long way to go before we can pop into something completely convincing like Star Trek's holodeck. Rec Room, for instance, is bright and cartoonlike. Avatars' heads float above torsos. Heck, there aren't even legs. And somehow it's not disturbing. 

     

    Your average Joe isn't exactly rushing home every night to put on goggles and spend the evening in virtual worlds. Even so, folks like the Orange Bucket Acting Troupe are sold on what VR can already deliver.

     

    As you wish

    Matthew Moffett admits he wanted to hang out with the cool kids -- specifically, a group of Rec Room users who plan events in the app like cocktail parties and dance parties.

     

    There will always be cool kids, even in VR.

     

    Moffett, a 27-year-old biochemist turned computer programmer in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, doesn't have a theater background. But he did take a screenwriting class in college and was cinematographer for a 2013 indie film called Asleep in a Storm. He started thinking about using the Rec Room app's rehearsal space to put on a play.

     

    He had another reason too: "It's just fun."

     

    The result was a modified version of pop slots free chips The Princess Bride that he spent weeks trimming, rewriting and bolstering with inside humor and Rec Room references.

     

    For the unfamiliar, The Princess Bride is a comedic fantasy movie starring Elwes, Robin Wright and Mandy Patinkin, based on the book and screenplay by William Goldman, who died last week.


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