Prototyping a mixed reality immersive display of a Charles Dickens manuscript
About the Project
We are prototyping a mixed reality experience for young people with immersive theatre pioneers Punchdrunk Enrichment and creative technology studio The Workers. It will bring an original Charles Dickens manuscript alive through an innovative mix of technology, performance and curatorial practice.
The project tackles the challenge of making literary manuscripts accessible to a teenage audience. It is funded through an AHRC call for fresh immersive cultural experiences, and chimes with ongoing V&A research into new display methods. The Dickens manuscripts are fragile, hard to decipher, and can be difficult to access. Yet they contain fascinating evidence of a brilliant, pioneering author at work. Taking a human centred design approach, we are developing an imaginative and digitally-enabled presentation of the manuscripts which aims to unlock their secrets for the next generation.
We are testing how digital technologies, when blended with the dynamics of group interaction and performance, can add value and quality to museum displays for a young, demanding audience. The prototype experience is designed to engage young people with Dickens’s creative process and inspire them to continue on their own creative journey. Students and teachers are involved in its development, helping us to understand and meet their needs and motivations when encountering these archive objects.
This practical research project will see the partners informing each other’s practice in working towards a new model for participatory modes of display. A comprehensive case study and toolkit will inform and potentially empower museum professionals, creative technologists, theatre practitioners – and others – to create more effective immersive experiences for young people. Student and teacher participants will benefit from engagement with the partners, taking back ideas to apply in an educational context. The research feeds into two related VARI projects, Show+Tell+Share and Digital Dickens.
Interview with the Workers about Immersive Dickens
How to turn a Charles Dickens manuscript into an immersive theatre experience for teenagers
Designing a minimum viable experience
As principle investigator, Kati is ultimately responsible for the project. As Head of Digital Media and Publishing at the V&A, Kati leads content development across digital and print, and explores ways that technology can help improve the visitor expe ... Read more
Peter is working as a lead creative on the Immersive Dickens project. He is a founding member of Punchdrunk and joint CEO of the charitable arm of the company. In 2008 he established the company's enrichment department and has pioneered taking punchd ... Read more
Kathryn has a keen practical and research interest in new modes of displaying intangible heritage, chiefly literature and music. She was assistant curator of the blockbuster V&A exhibition ‘David Bowie is’, and content editor for ‘Pink Floyd: Their Mo ... Read more
Eva brings with her the experience of working as a product manager as part of the V&A Digital Media & Publishing team, as well as a freelance theatre producer and startup founder. In her work, Eva enjoys shaping, defining and delivering products that ... Read more
Margot is one of the directors of the creative technology studio The Workers. Using her background in literature and design she explores new ways of storytelling by using technology in unexpected ways. In 2012, she co-founded, the creative agency, Stu ... Read more
Tommaso is a product designer, technologist and cofounder of The Workers, an award-winning creative technology studio. Combining design thinking and broad experience in all digital domains, Tommaso has worked over the years with large cultural institu ... Read more
Nicolas is a director at The Workers. His work, greatly influenced by his studies in graphic design and computer sciences, investigates the implications of digital technology through the filter of design. He graduated from the Design Interactions cour ... Read more
Rebecca is supporting Peter Higgin as lead creative on Immersive Dickens in an executive producer role. Rebecca is Executive Director and joint CEO of Punchdrunk’s charity. Responsible for its strategic direction, she works closely with Punchdrunk’s c ... Read more