What is transmedia – be part of the story!

Since we started the project there is one question that keeps coming up when we try and explain what we are doing. What is transmedia everybody asks? So here is an attempt to try and explain what it is and how we are using it for Cursed City – Dark Tide.

“Transmedia storytelling is the technique of telling a single story or story experience across multiple platforms and formats using current digital technologies.” Wikipedia


What Wikipedia is saying is that transmedia can tell stories across many different platforms (such as YouTube, Instagram, Facebook) in many different formats (in other words it could be a comic, a game, a video or any other medium). Importantly though, all of these different platforms, channels and mediums work together to tell a single story from one story world.

Using this kind of approach it is possible to tell a story in which the audience is not only immersed but is also a participant or character in the story. For example, Cursed City – Dark Tide includes a downloadable book of fan fiction, a street artist pasting up messages across the city in real life, a facebook group where the audience can interact with characters from the story, plus immersive theatre encounters where the audience can meet story world characters in real life. 

There are also puzzles that need solving and challenges for the audience to undertake as they assist the story world characters to save the city from… well that would be telling.

Cursed City – Dark Tide project team mentor Alison Norrington

When people ask us, what is transmedia, you know that this is a question that we have already asked ourselves many times. As a consequence of the Arts Council England funding the project team had the opportunity to mentored through the development process by an expert in transmedia Alison Norrington. You can watch a TEDx talk by her which may help with understanding quite what transmedia is. Her advice and support as been so important to the team since none of us had ever done anything like this before. Thanks to Alison and all of the other mentors involved with the project, I think we can at least try and answer the question now.

So here is our definition of transmedia:

Be part of the story…..

  • Like the page 
  • Get the invite
  • Join the group
  • Solve the puzzle

Save the city from a crazed and vengeful spirit!

Check out the Facebook page for more information and updates when Cursed City – Dark Tide launches this October.

Cursed City – Dark Tide is funded by Arts Council England to produce a transmedia story experience that will be delivered this autumn as part of Darkfest 2019.


Acting for Immersive Theatre workshop with Joe Hufton @ Groundlings Theatre

When we did the initial testing and audience research for the Cursed City – Dark Tide project, way back in July 2018. There was one particular piece of feedback that cropped up a number of times. People wanted to actually see the protagonist of Matt Wingett’s novel The Snow Witch, play the violin.

Clearly Donitza as a character resonates with the novel’s readers and she also resonated with me for other reasons. For many years I have had a personal passion for Balkan Folk Music to the extent that I even tried learning to play the fiddle at one point in time. I also have a bit of a passion for immersive theatre so the opportunity to actually bring Donitza to life, make her real, and stage a Balkan Folk dance was too hard to resist.

Many of the people involved with producing the Cursed City have worked together before and increasingly we have found ourselves experimenting with immersive theatre. Either at other Darkfest events (Cure or be Cured), at DVMISSION (Dusk till Dawn of the Dead, Da Da Land & Pompey Drifter) and more recently Octopus’s and Other Sea Creatures, a commission from the New Theatre Royal as part of their festival of the sea. Having dipped our toe in the water Cursed City – Dark Tide is going to be our first full dive into staging immersive theatre. 

With funding from the Arts Council England, we were keen to up our game and we wanted to bring some experienced people into the project as mentors. This led us to Joe Hufton who agreed to come down and run a one day workshop with us. We were very lucky to have such an experienced practitioner leading the workshop, Joe is an associate director at Les Enfants Terribles and one of the creators of their Alice’s Adventures Underground, The Game’s Afoot and Inside Pussy Riot.

We spent a day exploring immersive theatre and learning how to develop theatrical performances that involve the audience as a character in the story. Joe was an excellent facilitator and I think it is safe to say that we all learnt a lot from him. Our cast was pretty much all in attendance and it was really good too see how they worked together. I came away really excited about what we have planned for the project.

Groundlings Theatre deserves a big thank for letting us use their space but most of all we need to thank the people who took part in the workshop who made the day such a memorable experience.

Cursed City – Dark Tide is funded by Arts Council England to produce a transmedia story experience that will be delivered this autumn as part of Darkfest 2019.


Making Magic Street Art Workshop with Roo Abrook @ Aspex Gallery

One of the first ideas that we came up with when developing Cursed City – Dark Tide is that we wanted to have a street artist involved with the project. It was simple enough to conceive of Lissitch, an important character in Matt Wingett’s novel The Snow Witch as a street artist. He is, after all, a mysterious shape-shifting character. One of the old gods perhaps – not sure if this will ever be known with any certainty. 

Making Magic Street Art Workshop

I have always been fascinated by the paste-up art that you see around the city and I thought that perhaps Lissitch could be doing something along these lines.  He would be casting a spell, or sending a message to the local population. This would become a main theme for the Cursed City project and we consulted widely among the street art community. We were looking for a collaborator as well as some input and advice on how we might develop the character. 

Eventually, we met with Roo Abrook whose stunning work you can see all over the city and she agreed to take on a number of commissions for us. She also agreed to run a public street art workshop for us which we put on at Aspex Gallery. What a wonderful day it was messing about with spray paint, stencils and cut-outs under the expert tutelage of Roo Abrook.

We want to extend a big thanks to Aspex Gallery for hosting the workshop and we look forward to working with them again on future projects.

Cursed City – Dark Tide is funded by Arts Council England to produce a transmedia story experience that will be delivered this autumn as part of Darkfest 2019.


Southsea Model Village – The Snow Witch in miniature

Southsea Model Village has long held an attraction to me. I am not sure if they really do this in other countries but for me, growing up in the UK visiting model villages was part of my childhood as I am sure it was for many other people. So when we started to work on how we were going to adapt Matt Wingett novel The Snow Witch for Cursed City – Dark Tide. The fact that much of the story takes place in and around the model village drew us to doing something special in the location. 

I really liked the idea of taking characters out of the book and placing them in the model village. In particular, we all wanted to see Donitza busking in the town square. Working with local artist and model maker James Waterfield we commissioned two figures, a Donitza figure complete with a violin case. Plus a Lissitch figure, thorough in this instance Lissitch is represented as a street artist pasting up his art around the corner of one of the buildings. 

The owners of the model village were extremely supportive and we have to say a big thanks to them for allowing us to add to their collection. It was great fun to spend a day there installing the models and I also took the opportunity to do a short interview on camera with Matt. I think was a little overwhelmed by the experience of seeing his creations bought to life in this way.

Of course, Lissitch is not the only street artist to have their work in the model village. Aside from the full-size piece by My Dog Sighs, there are mini pieces by NZIE, BERKY, FARK and MY DOG SIGHS. I think this must be the only place in existence where you can do a mini street art tour. Go take a look and see if you can spot all the different pieces.

Cursed City – Dark Tide is funded by Arts Council England to produce a transmedia story experience that will be delivered this autumn as part of Darkfest 2019.


The Snow Witch and the Teeny Tiny Town

Last week the Cursed City crew paid a visit to Southsea Model Village to install two new figurines into the diorama around the market place. Much of the story in The Snow Witch novel takes place in the model village so we thought it only fitting that some of the characters should have a home there.

Artist James Waterfield installs the Lissitch figurine

We commissioned artist and model maker James Waterfield of Lawn of the Dead to make scale models of Dontiza, the protagonist, and Lissitch the… well, we are not quite sure what or who he is. If you take a stroll around the village now you can see Dontiza busking in the market place. While around the corner Lisstich, now manifest as a paste-up artist, lurks having just pasted up a new piece of art on the walls of a building.

With all the other street art adorning the walls of the model village now, this has got to be one of the smallest street art locations in the world. Give it time and there will be people offering visitors to Portsmouth street art tours in the model village. We are very proud to have contributed something to the village and we are especially proud to have added something unique to the street art offer there as well.

Over the coming weeks, you will see more of Lissitch’s work if you “open your eyes and see the magic”!

Cursed City – Dark Tide is funded by Arts Council England to produce a transmedia story experience that will be delivered this autumn as part of Darkfest 2019.