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Blending performance and digital worlds through innovative game engine technology, that preserves the essence of immersive theatre in an interactive virtual environment.

Because the Night, was an immersive theatre production by the Malthouse Theatre which featured six independent storylines set on 1800 sqm stage arranged in a maze-like configuration of thirty-five elaborately dressed rooms. Lockdown restrictions in 2021 led to the production's premature curtailment, prompting an urgent need to document the performance. The theatre partnered with Deakin Motion Lab researchers to create a digital experience using a game engine platform. This innovative method addressed the challenge of digitally preserving the immersive theatre production while allowing a digital audience to explore and engage with the story world.

The project resulted in the development of a new archiving workflow and an interactive environment capable of presenting multiple parallel storylines. The digital platform enabled the documentation of the complex, multi-layered narrative structure, and provided a means for the digital audience to navigate and interact with the story world, thus retaining the immersive and participatory nature of the original production. This approach showcased the potential of game technology for documenting, preserving, and presenting theatrical performances in unique ways, particularly during times when live performances are restricted.

The project highlights the importance of innovative archiving and preservation methods for immersive theatre productions, informing future developments in digital archives and alternative presentation methods for the performing arts. Moreover, the collaborative efforts between theatre professionals and researchers from fields such as game design and digital archiving exemplify the benefits of interdisciplinary collaboration, leading to new perspectives, methodologies, and innovations that enrich both the arts and digital media landscapes.

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