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Launching a UK-Wide Series of Immersive Storytelling Events

  • StoryFutures Academy
  • June 30th 2022
Residents invited to see their local towns differently as free, ground-breaking UK-wide series of immersive storytelling events launch

StoryTrails, the UK’s largest immersive storytelling experience, invites residents and visitors from 15 locations around the UK to explore untold stories of their town through ground-breaking multimedia technologies. From 1 July, local residents of Omagh are invited to participate in the launch of StoryTrails’ UK-wide 15-stop tour, as part of UNBOXED: Creativity.

On 26 June at Sheffield DocFest 2022, TV presenter, historian and Executive Producer of StoryTrails David Olusoga, took part in an event with Sheffield based creatives to mark the launch of StoryTrails, the UK’s largest immersive storytelling project. The talk ‘David Olusoga: StoryTrails - A Journey Through Time and Space’ took place in the Sheffield City Hall (Memorial Hall) and saw a full house of attendees. The panel was chaired by presenter Emma Dabiri, in discussion with StoryTrails Exec Producer, David Olusoga, Producers, Sile Sibanda and Gemma Thorpe alongside Head of Inclusion, Angela Chan, Kim-Leigh Pontin, Creative Director at Nexus Studios and BFI's Head of Audiences, Ben Luxford. This opening event demonstrated the public’s excitement surrounding StoryTrails, ready for its official launch in Omagh on 1 July.

StoryTrails begins with a free two-day live event taking place on 1 and 2 July. Centred around Omagh Library and on the streets of Omagh itself, it features digital experiences which will allow local people to experience their hometown of Omagh in a completely new way through the magic of augmented and virtual reality.

An augmented reality trail, specific to Omagh and accessed through mobile devices, is based around the question ‘should I stay or should I go?’. It explores reasons that people have left the town through 6 decades of Omagh’s history, using local and national archives, from cine movie and home video collections to those of the BBC and British Film Institute, to offer a window into the past.

The result is an insight into the changing fortunes of Omagh and its population told by ordinary people, from the closure of the railway to lack of employment opportunities. Locals Kathy Dunphy and James McAnespie, from the present day, enthusiastically share their optimism for the future of the town. The trail is narrated by well-known Northern Irish genealogist and tour guide, Vincent Brogan, and is available to download throughout 2022.

Omagh-based creative talent, Cat Brogan, daughter of Vincent Brogan, helped develop the content for an immersive 3D digital map of the town that features stories focused on well-known buildings, such as St Lucia Barracks and the Governor's House Omagh Gaol, both 19th-century, seen in a new light. The map is accessible in the library during the live event and online throughout 2022.

Cat was one of just 50 emerging creatives around the UK to be selected to take part in the development of StoryTrails and benefit from expert training and mentoring opportunities.

Time travel continues inside the library across the two live event days, when visitors enter digitally created worlds via a virtual reality (VR) headset. They can expect to find themselves in the shoes of a rebellious teenager as she discovers her mother’s punk past; take part in one of the many South Asian daytime raves that took place across the UK in the 1980s and 1990s; and hear what early generations thought life would be like today. All the stories featured on the VR headsets are available at every stop on the StoryTrails UK tour.

Historian and television presenter David Olusoga narrates a further AR experience that invites visitors to turn a dial on a virtual giant radio and travel back in time, from Beatlemania and the flares and haircuts of the swinging sixties, to dancing to the end of the millennium in crop-tops and trainers audiences can experience a potted history of Britain through the decades.

Omagh Library - Key Information

Friday 1st July (11:00-19:00) & Saturday 2nd July (10:00-18:00) 2022

Omagh Library, 1 Spillars Place, Irishtown Road, Omagh BT78 1HL

Find out more about all of the 15 StoryTrails locations here.

This innovative project is led by StoryFutures Academy, the National Centre for Immersive Storytelling, and developed by teams of leading technologists and creatives brought together for

UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, a four-nation celebration of creativity taking place in 2022.

Professor James Bennett, Director of StoryFutures and StoryTrails, said: “This is about getting people excited about where they live – helping them connect with stories of their town from the past and present through a new lens. New technologies like AR and VR can help build these connections and reignite people’s passion for the past. These technologies are for everyone – we want to find ways to engage people from all generations and spark a genuine celebration in each of our incredible locations.”

Martin Green CBE, Chief Creative Officer UNBOXED: Creativity, said: “StoryTrails is one of ten ground-breaking UNBOXED projects taking place in 2022 that demonstrate the power of creative collaboration across science, technology and the arts to create extraordinary and never-seen-before public experiences.”

StoryTrails runs across the UK from 1 July to 18 September 2022 and culminates in a new film presented by David Olusoga that will screen in cinemas across the UK and BBC iPlayer. The StoryTrails app, augmented reality story trails and immersive maps will be available throughout 2022 at www.story-trails.com.

UNBOXED: Creativity is funded and supported by the four governments of the UK and is commissioned and delivered in partnership with Belfast City Council, Creative Wales and EventScotland. Unboxed2022.uk



OMAGH DUNDEE DUMFRIES BLACKPOOL BRADFORD SHEFFIELD LINCOLN WOLVERHAMPTON SWANSEA/ABERTAWE NEWPORT/CASNEWYDD BRISTOL SWINDON SLOUGH LAMBETH LEWISHAM

Tour Dates

Omagh - 1st and 2nd July

Dundee - 7th and 8th July

Dumfries - 12th and 13th July

Blackpool - 16th and 17th July

Bradford - 22nd and 23rd July

Sheffield - 27 and 28tth July

Lincoln - 30th and 31st July

Wolverhampton - 6th and 7th August

Swansea / Abertawe - 10th and 11th August

Newport / Casnewyyd - 13th and 14th August

Bristol - 20th and 21st August

Swindon - 27th and 28th August

Slough - 3rd and 4th September

Lambeth - 10th and 11th September

Lewisham - 17th and 18th September

Facebook and Instagram @StoryTrailsProject. Twitter @StoryFuturesA

This year’s Reading Agency, Summer Reading Challenge aimed at children aged 4 to 11 takes a StoryTrails theme and is available in libraries across the UK.

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