This year, LMU’s William H. Hannon Library added a category to its annual Library Research Awards to include the work of graduate students. Garret Camilleri, a first year MFA in Performance Pedagogy graduate student, won an Honorable Mention Award for his work, entitled “Virtual Reality in Theatre,” which examined audiences’ level of empathy to VR in theatre. The MFA in Performance Pedagogy is a new theatre arts terminal degree program at LMU, designed for individuals with a professional performance background who are interested in developing as teachers of acting.
Camilleri was nominated by theatre arts assistant professor Arnab Banerji and produced the work for THEA 6010 – a seminar in Research and Writing in Theatre. According to Camilleri, “The goal of my research is to discover if VR should or can be implemented as a reliable mechanism for viewing live theatre in the future by testing how audiences relate to actors. The study does not challenge the current consensus on VR’s limitations; instead, it adds to the discourse surrounding VR’s potential role in theatre.”
The purpose of the research awards is to recognize and reward LMU graduate students whose research makes expert and creative use of the library services, resources, and collections to produce a scholarly or creative work. Camilleri’s work was noted by the awards committee as “timely, astute, and eclectic,” and his accomplished and diverse bibliography corresponded with expectations for research within the discipline.
The research project ended up being a labor of love for Camilleri, who noted, “As a geek at heart, I have always been interested in following potential future trends and understanding how technology will impact how we live. Virtual reality is in its infant stages, and I’ve always wondered where theatre and VR will successfully intersect.”