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Ones To Watch 2021

Limbik works at the intersection of immersive digital technology and the performing arts. This journey began with Fatherland, a groundbreaking production that combined real-time motion capture technology with immersive virtual reality and live video projection. The show premiered at  #TOMTechFestival in September 2019, with further touring suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We are currently planning to create an immersive VR version of the project in early 2022.

Fatherland catalysed an interest in spatial audio technology. Artistic Director Ben Samuels enrolled in a Storyfutures Academy Spatial Audio bootcamp, an experience which both blew his mind and charted a new creative course for the company—a course that has been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic. The company's upcoming stable of projects, designed to be experienced by audiences with a smartphone and headphones, combines cutting-edge audio, the interactivity of game engines, and a touch of theatrical panache.

The Garden – BBC Taster, July 2020- August 2021
Limbik's 3D audio explorations began with the Nesta-supported project, The Garden. The Garden is an immersive reading experience: a short story told through animated text, paired with a spatial audio soundscape. Before it commences, the story works out your "reading speed," so sound and text combine in a manner personalised for each reader.  

Pangea – BE Festival and Chicago International Physical Theatre Festival, July 2021, further dates TBD
Following on from The Garden, Limbik wanted to further explore non-linear storytelling and immersive, spatial audio. Bringing together a diverse, international team of writers, we developed Pangea, a three-episode interactive, spatial audio play.

Designed to be experienced at home and outdoors, the magic-realist story follows Grace, a young British woman of Ghanaian and Jamaican heritage, who one day wakes up to the dawn chorus of local birds calling her name. In her journey across Southeast London to understand their message, she encounters an eccentric English birder and an enigmatic Brazilian professor. Together, they learn to listen to the past, and reshape the present.

The story unfolds over three episodes, and utilises spatial audio to immerse the audience in the different characters' perspectives. The app that drives the experience allows the audience to determine their own journey through these different points of view, and construct their own unique version of the narrative.

Voice Thief – Lowry Digital Theatre Commission, November 2021
While Pangea allows its audience to assume the role of different lead characters, we still had another question: How can we make the listener themselves the protagonist of their own story?

Voice Thief, selected for the Lowry's Digital Theatre Commission, is a live, participatory, immersive audio-experience. It invites its audience to record their own voice. Then, in a twist, those recordings are transformed into a Mr Hyde-like character who has stolen their voice, and, by extension, their identity. The piece uses voice recognition AI technology to interrogate the increasing role of such technology in our lives, and the ever-thinning gap between our physical and digital selves. Ultimately, Voice Thief investigates the relationship between identity, memory, and the physical voice, and the fragile nature of the threads that bind them in our tech-driven society.

Rebel Rabble, Supported by Arts Council England, Spring 2022
Finally, as we look towards the end of the pandemic and the return of live performance, Limbik are exploring how to combine spatial audio with live actors in physical space. Our project Rebel Rabble brings together an intergenerational group of community participants in Norwich for a unique outdoor show. Inspired by the local history of Kett’s Rebellion, this project explores what rebellion means to different generations living in Norwich today. The intergenerational company has come together to share their stories of rebellion, and write new ones. These stories are currently being recorded by participants and professional actors. A final show will blend 3D spatial audio with live, outdoor, socially distant performance. Scenes, movement, and choreography, performed by the community cast, will merge with narration, dialogue, and soundscape, all triggered by geo-location.

And beyond...
Looking to the horizon, Limbik want to continue to innovate at the intersection of live performance and immersive digital technology. Simultaneously, we want to bring our unique theatrical approach to new mediums and platforms, such as audio books. Being a member of the Createch cohort would help support the company as we reach out to technology and business partners. We see great potential in creating “rock-and-roll” spatial audio adaptations of classic and modern literature, for platforms such as Audible, aimed at a new generation of listeners and listening technology.

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