Call: Touching Past Lives: Immersive Heritage Performance Symposium

Call for Participants

Touching Past Lives: Immersive Heritage Performance Symposium
Friday September 14th 2018, 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM BST
Senate House, Courtroom, Malet Street, London, WC1 7HU, UK

Free Registration via Eventbrite:


Touching Past Lives is a one day symposium exploring all aspects of the use of Immersive techniques to engage audiences with local, regional, and national heritage. Sensorial interactions and reactions to heritage is opening a new field of interrogations into how immersive experience of heritage shapes our understanding of the modern world. This symposium will bring together academics and heritage industry professionals, from museum curators and archivists, to immersive experience and heritage practitioners, to investigate the growing importance of immersive techniques in the heritage industry.

Affective and immersive experiences are part of individual and communal acts of remembering, engaging, emulating, re-visioning, and refuting the past. Heritage England in 2017 identified heritage as a key part of the UK ‘brand’ and central to the UK economy. In the current political climate there is an increasing importance in investigating how local, national, and international heritage affects wellbeing, identity, community regeneration and social cohesion. With increasing innovations to both virtual and live immersive experience design, it is important to examine the role of the senses in public response to heritage sites. How are immersive and interactive experiences embodying, engaging and mediating new narratives in cultural heritage performances, spaces and installations? What are the perceived social and personal benefits (or detriments) experienced by members of the public through their involvement in participatory heritage performance? How can technological advances in immersive experience design attract wider audiences to heritage sites?



Touching Past Lives is a heritage performance project by Paston Footprints 600, Dr Holly Maples (Brunel University), and Dr Karen Smyth (University of East Anglia) creating a series of interactive performances at heritage sites across Norfolk in 2018. The 600 Paston Footprints is a Heritage Lottery funded project that will help local people connect with the remarkable story of the Paston family, as chronicled in the Paston Letters. 600 Paston Footprints is a collaborative project between numerous local partner organisations, including the Paston Heritage Society, the University of East Anglia, Brunel University, and the Norfolk Record Office. Working with professional actors, drama enthusiasts, and members of the community, Touching Past Lives uses interactive theatre to bring the Paston family to life. We invite audiences to experience new and inventive ways to engage with history. The Symposium is provided by the generous support of Brunel University’s Global Lives Research Centre.


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