All the world's a stage... the drama entertainment of the future?

The Memory Dealer
16 May 2013 19:05:38.833


A new kind of feature-length drama which combines live theatre with film and elements of game-play will be moving audiences, literally, when it hits the streets of Bristol next week.

‘The Memory Dealer’ is a unique and interactive drama involving live actors in real locations weaving a futuristic story of ‘memory theft’ using mobile technology on the smartphones of the pioneering audience taking part.

Unlike traditional theatre, this play unfolds in different locations around the city and the promenade audience find themselves part of the story which is revealed by live actors, video and audio installations and multi-media on their mobiles.

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A moving experience

Writer and artist in residence at The University of Nottingham, Rik Lander, has devised a ‘pervasive drama’ with the Moving Experience Research Group at the University. This is a multi-disciplinary team which aims to explore the relationship between narrative, mobile technology and space. The new dramatic experience that has been developed with collaborators from the Pervasive Media Studio, Bristol, combines live action in a promenade performance with music, video and sound via a ‘Memory Dealer’ App and six interactive media installations.

Rik Lander said: “The Memory Dealer is set in a world where mobile phones can record and vividly replay memories. An old friend of yours, Eve Rust, is campaigning against the government’s sale of memory files to one giant corporation. Eve goes on the run after her campaign is made illegal and she needs your help and wants to meet up...

“The interactive and immersive way the story is told will, we hope, bring this work of fiction to life in a very real way without compromising the personal inhibitions of the audience.”

Playing the 'Memory' game

The Memory Dealer is being performed as part of the Bristol Mayfest with shows starting every 30 minutes at the Watershed between 11.00am and 4.30pm from Friday 24th to Sunday 26th May 2013. The audience will take the role of ‘players’ in the theatrical game that unfolds before them. Each member needs an iPhone or Android phone and for selected performances an iPhone will be available to borrow.

Assessing audiences

Dr Elizabeth Evans, from the University’s Department of Culture, Film and Media, said: ”The Memory Dealer will be a very exciting and original series of performances and we are keen to assess their public reception. Our research group will be collecting data about the audiences’ behaviour and attitudes to the piece. This information will include demographics and analysis of how individuals choose to experience the drama via their Memory Dealer app. Production staff will observe and note audience reactions. We will also record sections of the production on video as well as conducting questionnaires and audio interviews after the performances. The data will be hugely useful in informing future research about emotional engagement of audiences or players.”

The Moving Experience Research Group at The University of Nottingham also includes Dr Nanette Nielsen, Dr Sarah Hibberd and PhD student Alex Kolassa in the Department of Music, Dr Sarah Martindale at the Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute and Dr Eva Giraud from the Department of Culture, Film and Media.

‘The Memory Dealer’ has been funded by the Centre for Advanced Studies at The University of Nottingham and Arts Council England. It is sponsored by the Digital Cultures Research Centre (DCRC) and supported by Icon Films, the Doyle Collection, Alice Menter Jewellery No1 Harbourside, Watershed, the Pervasive Media Studio and Calvium.

The Memory Dealer is a U-Soap Media Production for the Moving Experience group at The University of Nottingham.

Tickets and more information are available on The Memory Dealer website:

Rik Lander’s website:

Rik’s blog and collection of interesting cross-platform drama projects:

@thememorydealer #memdealer

The Pervasive Media Studio, Bristol

The Pervasive Media Studio is a creative technologies collaboration between WatershedUniversity of West of England and University of Bristol.

It is a multi-disciplinary lab exploring and producing pervasive media content, applications and services. They work within a brilliant community of artists, creative companies, technologists and academics, including UWE’s Digital Cultures Research Centre.

Their projects include gaming, projections, location-based media, digital displays and new forms of performance. Some are commercial, some are cultural. They have a great workspace, an open ethos and a can-do attitude. 

Read more about their research here. 

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottinghamhas 42,000 students at award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It was ‘one of the first to embrace a truly international approach to higher education’, according to the Sunday Times University Guide 2013. It is also one of the most popular universities among graduate employers, one of the world’s greenest universities, and winner of the Times Higher Education Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development’. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong and the QS World Rankings.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The University aims to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for its research into global food security.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fundraising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…

Story credits


More information is available from Dr Elizabeth Evans, Department of Culture, Film and Media, University of Nottingham, or Rik Lander, Director of The Memory Dealer, +44 (0)7900690350,

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