A Virtual Reality and a Musical Theater production about a group of friends from different corners of the world who find home in each other and together create their own kind of joy and dreams as they survive the unspeakable.
EXI(S)T is a Virtual Reality and Musical Theater exile experience created by refugees and immigrants. This production comprises a Virtual Reality experience followed by a Musical Theater production that shines a light on our humanity and the community we created in the US.
Our production is an inventive experience that embraces the co-existence and fusion of different musical traditions. It is a story that does not get lost in translation because we connect two different artistic mediums, VR and musical theatre, to faithfully portray the uniqueness and intersections of our eclectic community.
We have spent the last year researching and gathering material from a variety of perspectives. We have taken real stories of people living in Mexico, Iraq, Nicaragua, Honduras, Somalia, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Brazil, Albania, Turkey, Kurdistan, South Sudan and Syria. We wrote the script based on the interviews, Virtual Reality content and research we put together. Creating the script from real stories has given us the unique opportunity to integrate voices of artists from the same background as the characters and mix the many voices into one story. It is our mission to offer a place for all of us that are affected to express ourselves through music and participate in what feels like a healing process.
The interviews for the Virtual Reality experience and inspiration of the musical have been recorded with a 3D volumetric camera, and rendered into a 400,000-particle special effect to protect the identity of the interviewees. The experience is full room-scale virtual reality.
The process of capturing VR content has been one of the most challenging, dangerous and worthy experiences for the team. It has been a tough trip: we were chased out of the refugee camp by police in Kavala Greece, were detained in Silopi by police for 6 hours and accused of entering Iraq illegally and of being CIA. We were given no explanation and put in a van without windows and Kalashnikov assault rifles were on the floor.
It has been worth the risk to get to know the people, create friendships. We’ve conducted first-hand interviews with lawyers, guards, volunteers, journalists, neighbors, politicians, and refugees. In 2019, we went to the Border of El Paso and Juarez where we witnessed the realities of what is happening to asylum seekers, the tragedies along with the miracles, friendships, and the wounds of indifference. We recorded everything. We have photos, videos, journals, vr content, audio of incidents where it was too dangerous to film and iPhone footage for the times it was even more dangerous to record.
EXI(S)T is here to show the world the magnificence of our community, celebrate our resilience and honor the people who have dared to dream of a better life.
Producer, Director and Conceiver
Producer and Virtual Reality Creator
Lyricist and Composer