In this final guest blog Q&A in our series, we chat to Tom Jordan of Interplay Theatre, for a catch up on how his event ‘Conductor’ panned out during the L19 festival.
I wasn’t actually aware of the festival prior to seeing a post on social media about the open call for L19 in (I think) October 2018; I guess it goes to show how effective marketing via social media can be! I’d only spotted it a few days before the application deadline, but it seemed to fit so well with what we wanted to do with ‘Conductor’ that we just had to go for it.
It seemed like a great way for us to share our work with the people of Leeds and beyond. Much of our work creating immersive experiences had been hidden away in schools or some venues outside of Leeds in more recent years, and the festival seemed like the perfect opportunity to open up our experiences and explore new audiences.
Our event was ‘Conductor’ – a Virtual Reality experience where audiences use VR to explore a forest, and conduct the world around them. Our original submission wasn’t hugely different to the reality in terms of its creative content, but what did evolve was how/where we shared the work. We ran events across three different sites; within our immersive inflatable dome in the even bigger L19 dome (which I liked to call our ‘dome in a dome’) for the Family Day, in the Discovery Zone containers over a very busy Briggate weekend and from our venue space in Armley, Leeds. Each venue for the work was really unique and brought in a wonderful range of different audiences, from 5 year olds to a 74 year old lady (who loved it once she’d gotten over her fear of virtual heights!).
In the follow-up to the event we’ve had some amazing interest in our work. We were successful in joining a NESTA programme to further develop and innovate using VR technology, and toured ‘Conductor’ to other arts and digital festivals in the UK. We’ve even had interest from the Brooklyn Academy of Music, who had spotted us as part of the Leeds International Festival programme.