DCRC researcher wins AHRC/NESTA funding for an innovative project with MIT and Punchdrunk

DCRC researcher Dan Dixon is leading a design ethnography project working with both Punchdrunk, a London based immersive theatre company, and MIT Media Lab’s Future of the Opera Group. Punchdrunk and MIT were funded by NESTA’s Digital R&D fund to create a mixed-reality, online version of their New York production of Sleep No More.

Sleep No More is Punchdrunk’s critically acclaimed and commercially successful retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth through the lens of Hitchcock and film-noir. It is set in a stunningly recreated 1930s hotel with more than 100 rooms spread across 6 floors, where the cast play out the narrative across the evening as the audience are free to roam, disguised by robes and carnival masks.

Punchdrunk intends to translate appropriate aspects of their promenade-style, site-sympathetic, immersive theatre into an online setting. Their goals are to replicate aspects of the unique Punchdrunk aesthetic in a web-based, live transmitted, collaborative, mixed physical/virtual experience. MIT Media Lab are providing the technology and assisting in the design and creative execution.

Through a design research process, Dan’s project will deliver insights on the aesthetics and value in the early stage of this process as well as help evaluate the final outputs. These will be investigated via two inter-related work packages. The first is Liminal Ethnography, lead by Dan Dixon of UWE, and the second is Insight Journalism, led by Jon Rogers of the University of Dundee. The data generated from each with be analysed together to form the basis of feedback into the Sleep No More project as well contribute to a wider dissemination and Dan’s PhD research project.

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