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  • Writer's pictureHinton Magazine

Chronic Insanity announce Puncture the Screen 2023

Nottingham-based theatre company Chronic Insanity has announced the return of Puncture the Screen, a data driven arts and performance festival that will be taking place both online and in-person this year from 20 November to 17 December. Consisting of performance, workshops, and educational opportunities for creatives and audiences alike, the festival aims to showcase the full innovative strength of digital art and performance, while also highlighting its accessibility, sustainability, inclusivity and affordability. The three central commissions include an exploration of the privatisation of medical data, a cook-along that uses speech recognition technology to allow audiences to input into the experience, and a storytelling show where the performers appear as holograms in the audience’s own environment. Now in its third year, Puncture the Screen’s performances and events will be available online for the full run of the festival, including digital versions of the in-person events, costing just £10 for full access.

Data driven art refers to art and performance that has been made, or is presented, using some form of data. This could be scientific or census data, the artist's own personal data, or live data recorded from the audience or viewer that is built into the artwork in real time. Three commissions create the centrepiece of the festival, all produced by Chronic Insanity and explore this:

Lifetimes is a new play by Lotty Holder that investigates innovation in the NHS, privatisation of medical data, and the human cost when the kinks aren’t worked out of new technologies or policies. With an innovative and immersive design, using the audience’s own biometric data, this rehearsed reading will tell an impending and important story for audiences in person or at home.

Stewed uses speech recognition technology to encourage people to dedicate time to relax while cooking something healthy and tasty. The experience consists of an invisible mythical creature appearing in your kitchen via spatial audio. It then teaches you how to cook ratatouille while telling you stories about their life, the history of the dish and the region of France that it comes from. The speech recognition technology allows the audience to navigate the experience at their own pace and in a hands-free way, propelling the story forwards using audience data. Once the food is cooked, the experience offers you the chance to listen to music from the region, as well as a soundscape of the countryside, as you eat and enjoy your dish.

Fabula: A Hologram Theatre System is a hologram storytelling system prototype that uses both environment and audience choice data, developed by Chronic Insanity. The experience allows for audiences to experience an augmented reality theatre performance, where the performers will appear as if they are in the same space as the audience. Not only will the performance take place on a stage or tabletop in your own home, but the audience has the ability to cast the productions themselves, much like the character select screen of a video game.

Along with these commissions, a Digital Theatre workshop series will be hosted on Zoom by artistic director and producer Joe Strickland, and the festival will also feature an archive of past masterclasses online with artists such as Edalia Day, Adam Lenson and Tom Black. A variety of other digital work will also be available online, including Naomi Westerman’s The Ashes World Tour, Tom Shennon’s Augmented Art and P.A. BITEZ’ Graphic Nature. Allsorts, a gig-theatre scratch night, will also be hosted in-person by Chronic Insanity as part of the festival, where anyone can turn up and perform their work. Please see listings below for full details on the program.

Artistic Director of Chronic Insanity and Digital Producer of the festival said: "We're so excited to be able to bring this festival full of data driven theatre and art back to Nottingham, and to be able to tour it to Norwich for the first time, allowing artists and audiences across the middle of the country to experience innovative artwork using VR, biometric data, and spatial audio, some people for the first time. We always try and push the boat out a little further as a company and I'm so happy that our small team has been able to continue innovating in British Theatre at a time when discussing and applying digital innovation in theatre and the arts has been more important than ever."

Chronic Insanity is a Nottingham based theatre company that creates and facilitates live events in a variety of traditional, found, and digital spaces. They make work accessibly, affordably, sustainably, and inclusively, and seek to change the definition of what theatre can be by playing with form, genre, medium, and technology. They follow Staging Change guidelines, actively providing opportunities for theatre makers from all backgrounds, and record how each production is made so people can learn from them. Chronic Insanity run the UK's first dedicated digital theatre literary department and have consistently produced twelve shows in twelve months.

Listings information

20 November – 17 December

Various locations and online:

Full access: £10


Lifetimes by Lotty Holder

In person: 20 Nov, 7.30pm | Nonsuch Studios in Nottingham

Online: from 20 Nov

Fabula: A Hologram Theatre System by Chronic Insanity

In person: 25 Nov, 6pm | The Garage in Norwich

In person: 1 Dec, noon | Broadway Cinema in Nottingham


Online: from 8 Dec, noon


In person: 14 Dec 7.30pm | Nonsuch Studios in Nottingham


Making Data Driven Performance 28 Nov, 7pm | Zoom

Creating Accessible Work Using Data 5 Dec, 7pm | Zoom

Immersive and Interactive Theatre Making 12 Dec, 7pm | Zoom

Available online the duration of the festival

The Ashes World Tour by Naomi Westerman

Malper by Rachel Parry

Augmented Art by Tom Shennon

Displacement Native by Michael-Jon Mizra

Graphic Nature by P.A.BITEZ

Who We Are and Where We Come From by Megan Gates

Masterclass Archive featuring:

Introduction to Digital Theatre by Kill The Cat, Introduction to animation by Edalia Day, A beginner's guide to making an animated short by Edalia Day, Technology and immersing audiences at home by Tom Black, Introduction to Creative Captioning using Isadora by Tim Kelly, Introduction to Digital Theatre by Adam Lenson


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