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How one Atlanta theater company is bringing virtual performances to MARTA

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Because who doesn’t want to spice up their underground commute with a musical?

A photo of the theater seats
Just link up to the exhibit’s internet service and watch an engrossing performance from your smartphone.
Theatrical Outfit

Atlantans seeking a little showbiz with daily commutes needn’t look further than the Peachtree Center MARTA station, thanks to a new partnership between the transit authority and downtown’s Theatrical Outfit.

The Theatrical Outfit has launched its “Interactive Platform Experience,” a new virtual art and theater exhibit installed near the entrance of the train station.

What’s this invisible entertainment for rail commuters all about?

The project features two real theater seats plopped down in the middle of the rotunda where MARTA patrons can take a load off and “use their smartphones to experience a free 360-degree scene from Theatrical Outfit’s current show, 110 in the Shade, running nearby on Luckie Street through June 24,” per theater officials.

Beyond self-promotion, the goal of this venture, Theatrical Outfit said, is to bring people’s attention to how crucial public transit is not just when getting to work, but also when traveling to plays, musicals, and other creative live events.

A photo of someone using his phone to access the play.
Actors performed inside the MARTA station and recorded it with a 360-degree camera.
Theatrical Outfit

The idea blossomed from a study funded last year by the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation’s Audience Building Roundtable.

Theatrical Outfit, the city’s second oldest professional theater company, was granted $100,000 to analyze how Atlantans use the railways to get to shows—and what they’re missing.

“We asked: ‘Who rides the subway and attends shows? What would they want to bridge these two activities? How do we provide what they aren’t getting?’” theater heads said in an announcement.

The results of the study, which was based on a survey sent to more than 300,000 people, suggested less than 10 percent of theater patrons take MARTA trains to events.

Categorically, those results sound interesting.

“(O)f those that ride the subway, five distinct segments were identified in over 5,000 responses: The Mobile Middle (36 percent), Carpools and Careers (30 percent), Affluent Intellectuals (17 percent), Thriving Boomers (9 percent), and Diverse Single Parents (8 percent),” according to the release.

Putting together the first Platform Performance required the cast of 110 in the Shade to perform their “Rain Song” and record the action with a 360-degree camera. The video was then hosted via a link that can be accessed only when viewers are planted in the theater seats.

The partnership’s first Platform Performance will run through July 1, and every 10th user will receive free tickets to one of Theatrical Outfit’s on-stage productions.