Virtual reality experience attracts huge numbers

Since landing in the Hastings Central City Mall on Tuesday morning, more than 500 people have plucked up the courage to step inside The Cube. 

The awe-inspiring virtual reality experience has attracted huge crowds, prompting organisers to implement a booking system to cope with demand.

“The response has been absolutely amazing, says Project Manager Alice Hyde. “We’ve had people from all walks of life and all age groups, including a 96-year old woman, who absolutely loved it.”

Created by UK-based, transmedia artist Simon Wilkinson, The Cube is in Hastings as part of the Harcourts Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival. Audience members enter a shipping container one at a time where they are fitted with the latest in virtual reality technology and transported to the centre of an unsolved mass disappearance from the 1950s.

Wilkinson says Hastings is by far the smallest place The Cube has been to, yet our audience numbers have far exceeded those in large cities around the world.

“The Cube has been all over the world to some really big places, including Montreal, Johannesburg, Caracas, Copenhagen, Belgrade and Ankara, but we’ve never had a response as big as this, says Wilkinson. “We normally average 70 visitors per day, but we’ve exceeded 150 per day in Hastings.”

Wilkinson credits the central location in the Hastings Mall and the fact that it is free with the popularity of the event.

“It’s really refreshing to have a more diverse audience, people who don’t necessarily think theatre is for them suddenly find themselves in the middle of theatre piece without even realising it,” he says. “It’s pretty cool.”

The cost of The Cube has been covered by the Hastings City Vibrancy Fund in keeping with the fund’s key goal of raising the vibrancy of the central city.

Hastings District Councillor Sandra Hazlehurst says bringing a piece of the Harcourts Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival into the centre of the city has proved “enormously successful”.

“People were queuing to see The Cube and those coming out were absolutely raving about it”, she says. “The place really is buzzing; it’s fantastic to see.”

The popularity of The Cube shows no sign of slowing down and organisers expect to easily exceed 700 visitors by the end of the week.The Cube: Hastings City Centre Mall, 10.00am to 8.00pm until Sunday the 16th of October. Bookings can be taken on site.

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