Explore the world of an Iraq veteran through virtual reality

A new Army@TheFringe show, Familiar Stranger, brings live acting and virtual reality (VR) together to tell the story of an Iraq War veteran returning to civilian life.

Hosted in the Hepburn House Army Reserve Centre, the show is a collaboration between the University of Glasgow department of Computing Science and Glasgow-based artist and coder collective RealRealReal.

Career soldier Sergeant Major Garry Worrall opens the show with a monologue before audiences are given Oculus Go VR headsets. They are then taken into a virtual space and the veteran’s inner life.

The VR space travels through his home and then into his memories of deployment. This mix of environments simultaneously provides both a familiar and strange experience.

After the experience the audience are re-introduced to Garry and have the chance to talk to him about his experiences in and out of the Army. This opens the space between the artists’ ideas of army life and his first hand knowledge.

Dr Julie Williamson, Lecturer in Human Computer Interaction at the university’s School of Computing Science, developed the technical set up and collaborated on the script.

The voice of Louise Oliver features as The Magazine Soldier, guiding the viewer through the fictional veteran’s memory. The music featured is created by Sarah J Stanley of HQFU in collaboration with RealRealReal.

Army@TheFringe is being presented by Army Headquarters Scotland as a way of engaging with wider society and initiating a discussion about soldiering.

The venue, which is open from 10 – 25 August as part of the Fringe, is staffed by soldiers who run the bar and front of house services. They also mingle with the public before and after shows.

Watch the trailer for the performance here.

Performances of Familiar Stranger run at 1pm, 3.45pm and 6.45pm daily until 24 August. Click here for more information and to book tickets.

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