Thea Awards Recipients

Thea Awards 2020

Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement - Connected Immersion

Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds: The Immersive Experience, London, England

This feature-length, walk-through experience effectively combines physical and virtual environments with live performance, guest interaction and effects to an unprecedented extent, keeping the audience engaged for 110 minutes. The story unfolds across more than two dozen physical rooms/scenes, interspersed with nearly as many virtual/digital scenes delivered along the way. Twelve live characters play in the scenes, sometimes accompanying the guests in person and sometimes trading off to virtual actors.

Guests pass from built environments to VR and back again to experience the settings, characters and action. These daring combinations come together in a well-orchestrated narrative that powerfully combines immersive theater with virtual technologies to deliver much larger moments. Guests arrive at the Spirit of Man bar/pub on Leadenhall St. The space, themed as a leftover from the war with the alien tripods from Mars, serves as the point of departure for the journey, the ticketing and waiting area, and the place to eat, drink, and socialize afterwards. The adventure includes witnessing the Martians land in the English countryside, following and interacting with various characters in the battle including a scientist, rebels, a religious cult and a wounded soldier, taking refuge in a farmhouse and a cemetery, surviving various attacks and being taken prisoner by the Martians.

This novel and highly ambitious re-imagining of the classic story pushes past previous limits into the future of seamless multimedia storytelling. It is outstanding beyond its many technical achievements, in particular its sheer ambition and duration. It even manages to add to the War of the Worlds story, making it feel fresh, with forgotten twists and turns reinterpreted. The unconventional music soundtrack makes the experience unique and consistent. This attraction brings together many aspects of our industry (and touches on some others) on a scale that challenges us to think of other complex stories that could be told on a large scale. It  is a trend to encourage.

Award Credits