EIRA awards first R&D grant to fund immersive VR experience for new show

The EIRA project (Enabling Innovation: Research to Application) has awarded £24,994 to renowned poet Murray Lachlan Young to support the production of an immersive VR experience for his new show, ‘The Mystery of the Raddlesham Mumps’.

EIRA is a collaborative project between seven universities and colleges in the East of England and is funded by Research England’s Connecting Capabilities Fund. The project seeks to drive growth and innovation in the region by connecting businesses with academic expertise. With the University of Essex as the lead partner, businesses can find a variety of support from EIRA across three themes: Digital Creative, Biotechnology and Artificial Intelligence.

The Mystery of the Raddlesham Mumps is based on Murray’s brand new epic poem of the same name and will involve a team of creatives developing a live show that will tour 8 venues across the region and beyond in April 2019.

The production will include a wraparound VR and immersive theatre experience and there will be an album released of the show. In addition to EIRA funding, Murray Lachlan Young has also secured an investment of £60,604 from Arts Council England’s National Projects grant programme and funding from Essex County Council to produce the family-friendly show.

The EIRA Grant Review Panel were impressed by the ideas in the proposal and were pleased the University could share expertise to enhance the impact of VR and other immersive technologies on performance. They were also keen to support the commercialisation of a multi-platform model and develop how it can be used to reach new audiences.

Vanessa Cuthill, Director of the Research and Enterprise Office at the University of Essex said: “We are delighted to be investing in and providing academic expertise to support Murray’s Raddlesham Mumps project through our new EIRA programme. This is the first EIRA Grant for the R&D award and our first Digital Creative project. The EIRA team are excited by Murray’s innovative ideas for applying technology to the Raddlesham Mumps experience and for exploring transmedia storytelling. We can’t wait to see how the project unfolds and how the data gathered from the research can steer future collaborations.”

Murray Lachlan Young said: “I’m so excited to be getting started at turning the Raddlesham Mumps into a live show, an immersive experience and an album. I can’t wait to be back in the room with my fantastic creative team exploring storytelling in all these different forms and I’m really grateful to both Arts Council England and the University of Essex for their support and collaboration”.

The Mystery of the Raddlesham Mumps reflects Lachlan Young’ passion for gothic, comic children’s poetry. It features ghosts, witches, fairy folk and a seven-year-old central character, Crispin, who learns of the untimely demises of his eccentric ancestors. The performance launches on Thursday 11th April at 7pm at the Lakeside Theatre, University of Essex. For more information and tickets, please visit the Lakeside Theatre’s website.