Space Plague: An immersive, collaborative and scaleable experience providing deep engagement with the physical sciences for young people and families

Lead Research Organisation: Middlesex University
Department Name: Faculty of Science & Technology

Abstract

SMASHfestUK seek Nucleus award funding for the purposes of developing a physical science specific, immersive theatrical experience for the purposes of ultra-deep engagement with STFC scientists, research and facilities. "Space Plague" is aimed at engaging, young people and their families, and will be specifically focussed on working with culturally diverse socially-economically disadvantaged communities in London and Bradford initially.

SMASHfestUK has previously developed disaster-based and narrative-lead STEM festivals over 4 years, which have been very successful in reaching disadvantaged and under-represented audiences and attracting audiences who are 60-70% BME and up to 80% fifth quintile POLAR postcodes (most deprived). Some of this work has been funded and supported by previous STFC Spark awards, providing learnings which we are basing this application on. Evaluation evidence suggest strongly that the disaster-themed narrative angle of the festival is a very successful way of engaging young people, particularly those who do not normally engage with science. The festival format however, makes it very resource-heavy, limiting the ability of the festival to travel and reach wider audiences effectively and the level of engagement with specific research can be variable, depending on factors such as volunteers knowledge.

"Space Plague" will be an interactive experience which will use methodologies developed from immersive theatre, escape rooms and existing SMASHfestUK interactive installations to create a fully immersive production in which audiences will take part in a performance, carrying out experiments, solving clues and finding solutions to problems that threaten the future of humankind. Although fictional, the storyline will be based on real, (possible) events and the solutions will come through engagement (within the narrative) with STFC researchers and facilities. We will partner with researchers and facilities to develop the story and script. A single "performance" lasting around 60 minutes will process 60 visitors who will experience 3 linked storylines, (each with its own interactive scientific elements) in which visitors help prevent a coming disaster. It is envisaged that the performance will form a central experience at Science festivals (repeated multiple times daily), and that real scientists will feature as live characters in the stories (semi-fictionalised). We will also create filmed assets with the researchers and the research facilities so that it can be toured around more rural areas and also into schools on smaller budgets, if individuals are unable to participate live. In this way we will create an activity which can be enjoyed with a full "cast" featuring live scientists and actors at large events such as festivals, but can also be customised for touring to schools or rural areas in a more resource friendly manner, extending the life-span and audience reach of the piece.

We seek funding to develop and deliver the specific storyline for the first iteration of Space Plague - the core of the story - which will form a standalone performance/experience. We envisage that other storylines could be attached to it in the future to create sequels and new "episodes". In this sense we intend to create a production which is customisable, scaleable and can be distributed and experienced in different ways depending on the available resources. Although the title of the piece is Plague, these modules specifically revolve around real STFC funded research and facilities in the UK.

The performances will be piloted, developed and performed across 3 festivals, Bradford Science Festival (2019 and 20) and SMASHfestUK (Deptford) in 2020.

Publications

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Title Space Plague Phase 1 - Live Immersive Show - Bradford 
Description Live multidisciplinary immersive show over two days, at Bradford Science Festival. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact Learnings and briefing for Phase 2 Space Plague development. 
URL https://flic.kr/s/aHsmFoNq11
 
Title Space Plague Phase 2 - Live Immersive Show - Deptford 
Description Live multidisciplinary immersive show over two days, with five day support and public recruitment festival. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact Learnings and briefing for Space Plague Phase 3. 
URL https://flic.kr/s/aHsmLBCu6H
 
Description Space Plague: An immersive, collaborative and scaleable experience providing deep engagement with the physical sciences for young people and families > Collaborations and Partnerships - Co-Design and Development Nwetwork 
Organisation British Ecological Society
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Conceptual, administrative, production, logistical, delivery and co-design lead.
Collaborator Contribution Content, co-design, logistics and delivery development and support.
Impact The co-design process, to date, has involved: - 60 Year 5 pupils, and 6 teachers from Haberdashers Aske's Temple Grove Free School in South East London. - 240 pupils and 6 teachers from Tidemill School. - 240 pupils and 10 teachers from Edmund Waller School. - 20 young people (ged 10-16) from Riverside Youth Club/UnCover @ The Albany and 3 actor facilitators. - 25 young people (aged 16-21) from TRAMSHED and 3 actor facilitators. - 20 Final Year and 2 Year 2 Product Design and Engineering students from Middlesex University. - 12 Performance: Design and Practice students and 1 tutor from Central St Martin's UAL. - 2 MSc Creative Technology students from Middlesex University. - 4 BSc Film and TV Production students from the University of Greenwich. - 8 Design, Engineering and Film Academics and Technical Tutors from Middlesex University and the University of Greenwich. - 8 Scientists from the Structural Genomics Consortium - 4 Scientists and Public Engagement staff from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory - Diamond Light Source and ISIS Neutron and Muon Source. - 10 Scientists from the British Ecological Society - 1 Independent Public Engagement/Science/Performance expert. - 1 Science academic from Birmingham University. - 8 Professional Actors/Performers. - 15 Bradford community volunteer facilitators, through the National Science and Media Museum. - 3 Bradford engineering volunteers. - 8 Stage and Production professionals. - 6 - Science Communication specialists. - 4 SMASHfestUK Core Team. Two full scale, multi-day immersive theatre events. 1. Bradford July 2019. 2. Deptford February 2020.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Space Plague: An immersive, collaborative and scaleable experience providing deep engagement with the physical sciences for young people and families > Collaborations and Partnerships - Co-Design and Development Nwetwork 
Organisation Diamond Light Source
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Conceptual, administrative, production, logistical, delivery and co-design lead.
Collaborator Contribution Content, co-design, logistics and delivery development and support.
Impact The co-design process, to date, has involved: - 60 Year 5 pupils, and 6 teachers from Haberdashers Aske's Temple Grove Free School in South East London. - 240 pupils and 6 teachers from Tidemill School. - 240 pupils and 10 teachers from Edmund Waller School. - 20 young people (ged 10-16) from Riverside Youth Club/UnCover @ The Albany and 3 actor facilitators. - 25 young people (aged 16-21) from TRAMSHED and 3 actor facilitators. - 20 Final Year and 2 Year 2 Product Design and Engineering students from Middlesex University. - 12 Performance: Design and Practice students and 1 tutor from Central St Martin's UAL. - 2 MSc Creative Technology students from Middlesex University. - 4 BSc Film and TV Production students from the University of Greenwich. - 8 Design, Engineering and Film Academics and Technical Tutors from Middlesex University and the University of Greenwich. - 8 Scientists from the Structural Genomics Consortium - 4 Scientists and Public Engagement staff from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory - Diamond Light Source and ISIS Neutron and Muon Source. - 10 Scientists from the British Ecological Society - 1 Independent Public Engagement/Science/Performance expert. - 1 Science academic from Birmingham University. - 8 Professional Actors/Performers. - 15 Bradford community volunteer facilitators, through the National Science and Media Museum. - 3 Bradford engineering volunteers. - 8 Stage and Production professionals. - 6 - Science Communication specialists. - 4 SMASHfestUK Core Team. Two full scale, multi-day immersive theatre events. 1. Bradford July 2019. 2. Deptford February 2020.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Space Plague: An immersive, collaborative and scaleable experience providing deep engagement with the physical sciences for young people and families > Collaborations and Partnerships - Co-Design and Development Nwetwork 
Organisation National Science and Media Museum
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Conceptual, administrative, production, logistical, delivery and co-design lead.
Collaborator Contribution Content, co-design, logistics and delivery development and support.
Impact The co-design process, to date, has involved: - 60 Year 5 pupils, and 6 teachers from Haberdashers Aske's Temple Grove Free School in South East London. - 240 pupils and 6 teachers from Tidemill School. - 240 pupils and 10 teachers from Edmund Waller School. - 20 young people (ged 10-16) from Riverside Youth Club/UnCover @ The Albany and 3 actor facilitators. - 25 young people (aged 16-21) from TRAMSHED and 3 actor facilitators. - 20 Final Year and 2 Year 2 Product Design and Engineering students from Middlesex University. - 12 Performance: Design and Practice students and 1 tutor from Central St Martin's UAL. - 2 MSc Creative Technology students from Middlesex University. - 4 BSc Film and TV Production students from the University of Greenwich. - 8 Design, Engineering and Film Academics and Technical Tutors from Middlesex University and the University of Greenwich. - 8 Scientists from the Structural Genomics Consortium - 4 Scientists and Public Engagement staff from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory - Diamond Light Source and ISIS Neutron and Muon Source. - 10 Scientists from the British Ecological Society - 1 Independent Public Engagement/Science/Performance expert. - 1 Science academic from Birmingham University. - 8 Professional Actors/Performers. - 15 Bradford community volunteer facilitators, through the National Science and Media Museum. - 3 Bradford engineering volunteers. - 8 Stage and Production professionals. - 6 - Science Communication specialists. - 4 SMASHfestUK Core Team. Two full scale, multi-day immersive theatre events. 1. Bradford July 2019. 2. Deptford February 2020.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Space Plague: An immersive, collaborative and scaleable experience providing deep engagement with the physical sciences for young people and families > Collaborations and Partnerships - Co-Design and Development Nwetwork 
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC)
Department ISIS Neutron and Muon Source
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Conceptual, administrative, production, logistical, delivery and co-design lead.
Collaborator Contribution Content, co-design, logistics and delivery development and support.
Impact The co-design process, to date, has involved: - 60 Year 5 pupils, and 6 teachers from Haberdashers Aske's Temple Grove Free School in South East London. - 240 pupils and 6 teachers from Tidemill School. - 240 pupils and 10 teachers from Edmund Waller School. - 20 young people (ged 10-16) from Riverside Youth Club/UnCover @ The Albany and 3 actor facilitators. - 25 young people (aged 16-21) from TRAMSHED and 3 actor facilitators. - 20 Final Year and 2 Year 2 Product Design and Engineering students from Middlesex University. - 12 Performance: Design and Practice students and 1 tutor from Central St Martin's UAL. - 2 MSc Creative Technology students from Middlesex University. - 4 BSc Film and TV Production students from the University of Greenwich. - 8 Design, Engineering and Film Academics and Technical Tutors from Middlesex University and the University of Greenwich. - 8 Scientists from the Structural Genomics Consortium - 4 Scientists and Public Engagement staff from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory - Diamond Light Source and ISIS Neutron and Muon Source. - 10 Scientists from the British Ecological Society - 1 Independent Public Engagement/Science/Performance expert. - 1 Science academic from Birmingham University. - 8 Professional Actors/Performers. - 15 Bradford community volunteer facilitators, through the National Science and Media Museum. - 3 Bradford engineering volunteers. - 8 Stage and Production professionals. - 6 - Science Communication specialists. - 4 SMASHfestUK Core Team. Two full scale, multi-day immersive theatre events. 1. Bradford July 2019. 2. Deptford February 2020.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Space Plague: An immersive, collaborative and scaleable experience providing deep engagement with the physical sciences for young people and families > Collaborations and Partnerships - Co-Design and Development Nwetwork 
Organisation SmashFestUK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Conceptual, administrative, production, logistical, delivery and co-design lead.
Collaborator Contribution Content, co-design, logistics and delivery development and support.
Impact The co-design process, to date, has involved: - 60 Year 5 pupils, and 6 teachers from Haberdashers Aske's Temple Grove Free School in South East London. - 240 pupils and 6 teachers from Tidemill School. - 240 pupils and 10 teachers from Edmund Waller School. - 20 young people (ged 10-16) from Riverside Youth Club/UnCover @ The Albany and 3 actor facilitators. - 25 young people (aged 16-21) from TRAMSHED and 3 actor facilitators. - 20 Final Year and 2 Year 2 Product Design and Engineering students from Middlesex University. - 12 Performance: Design and Practice students and 1 tutor from Central St Martin's UAL. - 2 MSc Creative Technology students from Middlesex University. - 4 BSc Film and TV Production students from the University of Greenwich. - 8 Design, Engineering and Film Academics and Technical Tutors from Middlesex University and the University of Greenwich. - 8 Scientists from the Structural Genomics Consortium - 4 Scientists and Public Engagement staff from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory - Diamond Light Source and ISIS Neutron and Muon Source. - 10 Scientists from the British Ecological Society - 1 Independent Public Engagement/Science/Performance expert. - 1 Science academic from Birmingham University. - 8 Professional Actors/Performers. - 15 Bradford community volunteer facilitators, through the National Science and Media Museum. - 3 Bradford engineering volunteers. - 8 Stage and Production professionals. - 6 - Science Communication specialists. - 4 SMASHfestUK Core Team. Two full scale, multi-day immersive theatre events. 1. Bradford July 2019. 2. Deptford February 2020.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Space Plague: An immersive, collaborative and scaleable experience providing deep engagement with the physical sciences for young people and families > Collaborations and Partnerships - Co-Design and Development Nwetwork 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Conceptual, administrative, production, logistical, delivery and co-design lead.
Collaborator Contribution Content, co-design, logistics and delivery development and support.
Impact The co-design process, to date, has involved: - 60 Year 5 pupils, and 6 teachers from Haberdashers Aske's Temple Grove Free School in South East London. - 240 pupils and 6 teachers from Tidemill School. - 240 pupils and 10 teachers from Edmund Waller School. - 20 young people (ged 10-16) from Riverside Youth Club/UnCover @ The Albany and 3 actor facilitators. - 25 young people (aged 16-21) from TRAMSHED and 3 actor facilitators. - 20 Final Year and 2 Year 2 Product Design and Engineering students from Middlesex University. - 12 Performance: Design and Practice students and 1 tutor from Central St Martin's UAL. - 2 MSc Creative Technology students from Middlesex University. - 4 BSc Film and TV Production students from the University of Greenwich. - 8 Design, Engineering and Film Academics and Technical Tutors from Middlesex University and the University of Greenwich. - 8 Scientists from the Structural Genomics Consortium - 4 Scientists and Public Engagement staff from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory - Diamond Light Source and ISIS Neutron and Muon Source. - 10 Scientists from the British Ecological Society - 1 Independent Public Engagement/Science/Performance expert. - 1 Science academic from Birmingham University. - 8 Professional Actors/Performers. - 15 Bradford community volunteer facilitators, through the National Science and Media Museum. - 3 Bradford engineering volunteers. - 8 Stage and Production professionals. - 6 - Science Communication specialists. - 4 SMASHfestUK Core Team. Two full scale, multi-day immersive theatre events. 1. Bradford July 2019. 2. Deptford February 2020.
Start Year 2019
 
Description 35 co-design workshops. 2 Live events. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The co-design process, to date, has involved:
- 60 Year 5 pupils, and 6 teachers from Haberdashers Aske's Temple Grove Free School in South East London.
- 240 pupils and 6 teachers from Tidemill School.
- 240 pupils and 10 teachers from Edmund Waller School.
- 20 young people (ged 10-16) from Riverside Youth Club/UnCover @ The Albany and 3 actor facilitators.
- 25 young people (aged 16-21) from TRAMSHED and 3 actor facilitators.
- 20 Final Year and 2 Year 2 Product Design and Engineering students from Middlesex University.
- 12 Performance: Design and Practice students and 1 tutor from Central St Martin's UAL.
- 2 MSc Creative Technology students from Middlesex University.
- 4 BSc Film and TV Production students from the University of Greenwich.
- 8 Design, Engineering and Film Academics and Technical Tutors from Middlesex University and the University of Greenwich.
- 8 Scientists from the Structural Genomics Consortium
- 4 Scientists and Public Engagement staff from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory - Diamond Light Source and ISIS Neutron and Muon Source.
- 10 Scientists from the British Ecological Society
- 1 Independent Public Engagement/Science/Performance expert.
- 1 Science academic from Birmingham University.
- 8 Professional Actors/Performers.
- 15 Bradford community volunteer facilitators, through the National Science and Media Museum.
- 3 Bradford engineering volunteers.
- 8 Stage and Production professionals.
- 6 - Science Communication specialists.
- 4 SMASHfestUK Core Team.

The rich range of experience, experiences, perspectives and creativity that this collaborative group have brought together, and the training in co-design and immersive experience development and delivery that SMASHfestUK team have facilitated, ensured that Phase 2 at Deptford was both successful as an experience in itself, as the next stage building block in the Space Plague process, and as a development framework for the interdisciplinary, cross level and sector collaborating group.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
URL https://flic.kr/s/aHsmLBXnut