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by Kate Moody | Stornaway Communications Assistant, May 2023

Noel Byrne’s interactive experience ‘Gulliver Exploded’ is reimagining the way in which we interact with stage shows

Noel Byrne is a theatre maker and puppeteer who runs Box Tale Soup, a touring theatre company, alongside Antonia Christophers. Together, they’ve been making stage shows for 10 years, focussing on original adaptations of classic literature and using a lot of puppetry and inventive design in their shows.

They’ve toured extensively in the UK, and also performed in the US, China and Europe. Their latest show, Gulliver, received multiple 5 star reviews and has just completed a national tour. The show is available now via Stornaway as Gulliver Exploded, an interactive version where you can watch a performance and explore all kinds of behind the scenes content about the creation of the show.

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Gulliver Exploded began with the drive to put work online during lockdown in 2020. A lot of companies and artists were doing it, but Noel and Antonia didn’t feel they had much available – most of the recordings they had from shows weren’t of a good enough quality. 

They began to talk about what they’d like to offer, and since it would never be quite the same thing as watching a live performance, what the online experience could add. They really liked the idea of an interactive video, where you could simply watch the show if you wished, but you could also dive deeper if you wanted to, and find out more about the music, the puppetry, the design and the performers. 

They applied to the Genesis Kickstart Fund to help them film the show and create the content they needed, and thanks to their generous support, Gulliver Exploded was brought to life.

“We were looking for a platform that could do what we wanted, allowing viewers to explore the show and additional content however they chose. We looked at some of the big streaming video providers and we were disappointed to find there really weren’t many options for small creators like us – everything was geared to large companies, and mainly for advertising/sales purposes. Then we found Stornaway via a simple Google search, and it seemed perfect – flexible, affordable and really allowing for a lot of creativity!”

“There is a little learning curve, as is always the case when you come to use a new platform, but overall it has been really easy. Once you get the hang of it, the visual editor for islands is brilliant, and makes connecting and rearranging things incredibly straightforward. It also gave us a lot of ideas that we haven’t been able to implement in this project, so we’re definitely hoping to do more with Stornaway in the future.”

Box Tale Soup have had a great response to Gulliver Exploded, because of the viewer’s ability to fully explore all elements of the process of creating a stage show, alongside the finished result.

“We’ve been rolling the project out quite gently, as there are still a few little bits and pieces being added as we receive them – the ability to update the project and then just have the new version go live with a click is brilliant! But so far, the response has been absolutely fantastic. Because our shows are quite unique in style and design, people are always asking us about how the work is put together – Gulliver Exploded allows them to explore all that, finding out more about whatever particularly interests them, and the feedback has been great.”

With 99 different story islands, and a multitude of choices, Gulliver Exploded brings a whole new level of interactivity to stage shows. Noel and Antonia also utilised Stornaway’s unique features, such as game logic, allowing users to further interact with the project by gaining access to different sections of the project, depending on what they have just watched.

What next?

To find out more about using Stornaway for interactive films, documentaries and story games, see our examples page and check out our blogs, including this post about making Shakespeare texts interactive

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