Imagine this: It’s Chicago, 1963. What was previously known as the United States has been under the rule of the Axis powers since the Allies lost World War II. Hitler has died and his successor, Heinrich Himmler, has constructed a plan for the internment of the formerly allied Japanese citizens in Chicago. Meanwhile, a rumor circulates that hacked state televisions show a place where the Allies had won the war. Citizens must choose between personal safety under the state or risk joining an underground resistance movement that is determined to fight the Reich.

Such is the scenario in “A Most Favored Nation,” an ambitious UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television theater season live-to-tape event inspired by the Amazon series “The Man in the High Castle” and the Philip K. Dick novel upon which it is based.

“Nation” has been a bold undertaking since it was conceived in 2019 by Jeff Burke, theater professor in residence, as a live, immersive production slated for the 2019-20 theater season and supported by the Skoll Center for Social Impact Entertainment, Epic Games and Intel Studios. It was headed for TFT’s Freud Playhouse stage before it was delayed, like so many events, by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Undeterred, Burke and his team continued to work on the project, making adjustments and modifications to conform to the limitations of students suddenly working remotely while only a small group of research staff and faculty remained on campus.

The goal from the beginning was to explore the possibilities of incorporating augmented reality and volumetric capture in live theater, a first at TFT and a concept that is still in its infancy in the theater world at large.

“There really arent many examples of AR theater productions that are using AR with characters at all, says “Nation” co-director Mira Winick, who graduated in 2020, but there definitely is a push towards more [incorporation of] green screen and theater that doesn't have to be in person.”

Read the full story about “A Most Favored Nation.”