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by our Staff Reporter
Three years ago, Neurotheater was science fiction. Two years ago it was an experimental program that had excited moviegoers lining up for blocks around the Royal Light Theater in Nevrayapurh. This year it there are regular Neurotheater showings in cities throughout Novaria and next week the first neurotheater showings will take place outside Novaria, in Ladyton, Trintitiana and Chelverton.
For those who have been living in a cave for the past three years, Neurotheater is the revolutionary and, for some, controversial innovation that dispenses with screens and sound systems, beaming the movie experience directly into the viewer's brain.
The experience is one of full-surround 3D, often seen from the perspective of the main character, although the "camera angle" can change rapidly, giving the feeling of teleporting instantaneously through physical space. Scents, tastes and sensations are also experienced, though naturally these must be modified in many cases - no one would pay to experience the full force of a hurricane or feel a sword through her chest!
Maristra-chei Alita, the founder of Total Theater Cp. assures critics that these experiences are kept well within bounds and that experiencers are able to modify them for themselves as they are experiencing if they wish to do so. Actually, she says, it is far more common for experiencers to tune them up from the very "safe" default settings than to tune them down. She insists that "safe" be placed in quotes, since there is really no danger at any setting.
She also stresses that, since the experience goes direct to the brain, Total Theater (she prefers that term to the more usual "Neurotheater") can be enjoyed fully by those with impaired sight or hearing, and even by the blind.
A common criticism of Neuro- (or Total) Theater is that it separates people. Instead of watching a common screen they are each locked in their separate experience-world.
Maristra-chei responds to this: "Light theater - indeed all theater - has always been separative. People sit looking away from those next to them and over the backs of others' heads. Actually we believe that Total Theater can be more Amative. The new Total Theater buildings have experiencers seated in a great circle of rich, red-plush and old-frame seats , facing each other able during the intervals to admire each other's splendid theatergoing finery. And converse much more easily. Waitresses bring beautifully presented refreshments. We are making theater a true social occasion again.
In Novaria these Neuro-technics are not only used in theater but also for telephony. Callers now meet each other in full-surround environments using simulacra of their physical bodies or avataras of their choice and design. The technics are bringing people together, says Maristra-chei. And in her new Total Theaters, experiencers may "glance aside" during the performance, either into the physical auditorium in the round (which remains fully lighted) or into any virtual environment that has been set up with her escort or party.
"Everyone has a virtual 'private box'," explains Maristra-chei "which can take the form of a real theatrical box, an elegant drawing-room or an idyllic pastoral scene - or anything else the experiencers may want. As the concept of 'being in one place at a time' breaks down, experiencers are happily finding they can be immersed in an intense theatrical experience and sharing it in amity with their own party and with a full audience - experiencing on three levels at once."
The technical barriers that kept the rest of the West from Novarian technics have long been breaking down in some areas. How long, one wonders, will it take to break down the psychological and cultural barriers that separate the Novarian embrace of radically different ways of experiencing the world from the more earth-bound psychology of the other Western nations?