China’s first metaverse theater festival announced
Published: Feb 27, 2023 10:45 PM
Metaverse Photo: VCG

Metaverse Photo: VCG

Around for hundreds of years, theaters are now either actively or forcibly embracing digital per-formances amid the rise of the metaverse.

On Saturday, well-known Chinese theater director Meng Jinghui announced a brand-new theater festival that will debut in April in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, involving the metaverse. 

As the first metaverse theater festival in China, the Sphinx Meta Theater Festival, named after the mythological creature from Egyptian lore, will seek out international links with cities including New York, Paris and Berlin with the help of technology.

Later on Saturday, the organizers of the new festival released a total of 83 visually stunning futuris-tic posters created with the aid of artificial intelligence (AI). 

The posters are made with the cooperation of 83 guests from all walks of life, including artists, ce-lebrities, magazine editors and CEOs from tech companies, who were invited by the festival to input six prompts into an AI image generator to produce extraordinary art showing the future of theater in China.

As the host of the theater festival, Meng inputted the prompts "cruel green," "tomorrow's depres-sion has nothing to do with me," "young Picasso," "the mad colors of German Expressionism" and "no reason, no result."

In addition to the posters, the theater festival, set to run from April 15 to May 7, will include nine sections, including a metaverse theater stage, multi-media interactive exhibits, summits and fo-rums and a sharing market, aimed at discussing potential breakthroughs in the future of theater as well as the limitations of AI technology.

As one of the most influential figures in China's theater industry, Meng is known for his humorous and critical style, as well as his pioneering diverse artistic sensibilities. 

Now he has turned his attention to a new trend: The combination of virtual reality and theater plays.

The combination of the metaverse and art performances isn't an entirely new thing in China. In 2022, the National Peking Opera Company introduced its first AI humanoid opera performer You Zixi. The AI figure learned her moves from other Peking Opera performers.

As the concept of metaverse has jumped from sci-fi novels to the small screens and now into real life art, this unstoppable trend also has insiders worried: Has art really entered a digital realm and where do the boundaries lie?

Liang Xin, a theater industry insider and Henan Opera performer, told the Global Times on Sunday that no matter what kind of high technology enters the industry, the ultimate goal is to make per-formances better.

"The use of high-technology, such as the metaverse, in any aspect, should be used to make audi-ences feel the beauty of art, the operas or plays, so to speak. We cannot lose the essence of art by focusing too much on technology. I believe that's what the metaverse theater festival will also fo-cus on," said Liang.