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Immersive theatre company launches with show using audiences’ personal data

Production shot from Recollection by Any One Thing Production shot from Recollection by Any One Thing. Photo: David Smalley
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An immersive theatre company is launching in London this month with a production that uses online data about its audience to personalise the show.

The company, Any One Thing, has been founded by tech entrepreneurs Paul Farnell and Justin Fyles, and plans to create immersive theatre that explores the possibilities of technology in the arts.

Any One Thing’s first show, Recollection, opens at a secret location in London this week. Plot points and prop details in the production will be customised to individual audience members by using personal data they have put online.

The company will apply software and technology that is typically used for marketing and advert personalisation and work its findings into the promenade performance, which centres on a character whose memory has been erased by the scientific technology company she worked for.

The audience – six per show – will attempt to recover the lost memories throughout the course of the performance.

Fyles said he hoped the production would make people more aware of the data they give away online.

“It is not our responsibility nor our intention to say you shouldn’t be giving away your personal data, however we want everybody to be able to make those decisions in an educated manner, and not just think that everything is free, because it’s not.

“You’re paying a lot more for the free app you get from a big brand than you are for that pint you’re buying at the pub with your own cash.”

Recollection is the company’s first show, however Fyles said he hoped to expand to larger audience sizes in future and produce more shows that explore the possibilities of technology in theatre.

He said: “The pieces we produce will always exemplify the marriage of how tech can impact theatre and live experience… We are from a tech background, but we are also artists, and we want those complicated topics to be something everyone can experience through theatre because it is a really good medium to explore those topics.”

Recollection is written by Richard Pucci and directed by Sophie Larsmon, and runs in London until April 28.

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