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Screen South and Hi3 Network Panel: How Writers Can Shape the Future of Immersive Storytelling

Screen South and Hi3 Network Panel: How Writers Can Shape the Future of Immersive Storytelling

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This free panel session invites writers, readers and audiences to think about their places in immersive storytelling. New creative technology including VR, XR (Extended Reality), and immersive media, has radical implications for the future of storytelling. It’s broken down boundaries between art forms, provided opportunities for experiments in narrative, and challenged traditional models of writer-audience relationships.

The best XR projects have had good writing and storytelling at their heart. So how can more writers take part in this world? Sacha Wares, (associate director of the National Theatre’s Immersive Storytelling Studio, Innovation Associate at ETT and Founder of Trial and Error Studio), will lead an inspiring panel discussion playwrights Ella Hickson and Simon Stephens.

Sacha Wares is a theatre director and creator of work using new technologies. They are also associate director of the National Theatre's Immersive Storytelling Studio and Digital Innovation Associate for English Touring Theatre. Recent work includes 'Museum of Austerity' (IDFA DocLab Award Immersive Non-Fiction 2021) and 'Adult Children' (LFF, Belfast XR festival, Kaohsiung Film Festival). Stage work includes 'Wild Swans' and 'generations' at the Young Vic, 'Sucker Punch' and 'Random' at the Royal Court) and 'Boy' and 'Game' at the Almeida.

Ella Hickson is an award-winning playwright whose work has been performed throughout the UK and abroad, including 'Adult Children', created with Sacha Wares, XR short about the pandemic, commissioned by the Donmar Theatre, which took issues around proximity as its subject and form. She also collaborated with Sacha Wares on 'Madame Kalamazoo', an interactive story-telling experience, supported by The National Theatre, delivered to children, by email, throughout lockdown. Other theatre includes, 'Swive’ (2019) at The Globe, ‘The Writer’ (2018) and ‘Oil’ (2016) at The Almeida Theatre, and ‘Wendy and Peter Pan’ (2015) at The Royal Shakespeare Company.

Simon Stephens is a playwright ('The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time', 'Blindness', 'The Threepenny Opera', 'Birdland') and Professor of Scriptwriting at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Gareth Fry is a multi-award winning sound designer, best known for his cutting-edge work in theatre, on productions such as 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child', and Complicité’s 'The Encounter'. He has also designed events and exhibitions, from the V&A’s landmark David Bowie Is exhibition, to being asked by Danny Boyle to design the sound effects for the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games. His expertise in binaural sound has also led to extensive work in VR / AR / XR, which has featured at the Sundance, Tribeca and Venice Film Festivals. Recent work includes 'In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats', a VR piece for East City Films and Coventry City of Culture.


The Shape of Things to Come, our forward-thinking Book Festival returns this autumn. Running from Friday 18 November to the following Sunday 27 November 2022, Folkestone Book Festival will present a celebration of writing, reading, thinking and debate.

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