Punchdrunk Enrichment Project: Engagement & Intensity at Fallow Cross

Dr. Angela Colvert and Peter Higgin (Director of Enrichment) on set at Fallow Cross in Tottenham Hale, North London

This summer DARE affiliate Dr. Angela Colvert from the University of Roehampton undertook a research project with Punchdrunk Enrichment [PE]- the educational and outreach arm of immersive theatre company Punchdrunk. Representatives from museums, galleries, academic institutions, game design companies and schools were invited to a presentation of Angela’s findings relating to the intensity of engagement experienced by children and teachers who participated in The Oracles project in 2018.

Read the full report here and the Executive summary here.

The Oracles is PE’s latest cross-platform experience, developed for local primary school children in North London. Playing a tablet game in the classroom introduces pupils to the world of Fallow Cross, and reveals a call to adventure over a few weeks of engagement. Alternating between gameplay and visits to the village of Fallow Cross [a reconstruction of the gameworld in a former industrial space in Tottenham], the pupils must recover missing objects to restore protection to the village under threat. The project, inspired by the myth of Hercules and his 12 Labours, is designed to engage Key Stage 2 pupils in Greek mythology and mathematics, as well as improve digital literacy. Cutting edge technology has been developed in collaboration with Google’s Creative Lab and Grumpy Sailor to create magical moments of audience interaction, that blend digital and physical environments.

Colvert’s Model for understanding Immersive Play

Angela’s research sought to understand the purposes, practices, processes and products of The Oracles programme, mapping the relationship between the intensity (affect) and the nature of engagement (effect) in participants’ experiences. The model of immersive play which emerged from this research is a pedagogical tool to understand how the affective aspects of play inform the engagement of players.

Punchdrunk Enrichment are keen to explore the learning opportunities afforded by immersive encounters in partnership with museums and galleries, as well as with scholars of digital media and education. The company wish to diversify and amplify the cognitive and affective experiences on offer to primary children, by identifying relations between theatre, drama and gameplay. This is achieved through the creation of imaginative, playful, narrative assemblages in physical, virtual and digital worlds. The high production values and levels of professionalism present in Punchdrunk’s expansive adult programmes of work are fully replicated in their enrichment projects for young learners.