A tabletop theatre experience delivered directly to audiences’ homes, using AR, AI and binaural sound, to reveal the gothic, haunting tale of Hopegood Shakespeare.

“We have a long way to go, you and me…”

Through mobile technology, mixed reality, AI and spatial sound, Hopegood Shakespeare, a wetnurse of 1,000 children climbs into audiences’ homes and takes them through the rain-soaked Essex marshes.

You once were one of the foundling children she nursed and, because there are men at her gate and time is running out, she urgently needs to tell you your history before it is lost forever…

The Foundling is a durational theatre experience that is composed of four distinct chapters delivered through audiences’ letterboxes over a series of days. It is designed to explore how theatre storytelling can expand outside of theatre walls and acts as a narrative prequel to The Undrowned, a large-scale live immersive theatre experience scheduled for 2022.

Walkthrough video – 2020

Intended audience

The Foundling would appeal to theatre and live event audiences who are looking for immediate and personalised ways to engage with narrative in their own space, intrigued as to how theatrical storytelling combined with technology could deliver a story in a time of isolation and COVID-19.

It would attract the digitally curious who want to gain further insight into how live theatre narrative is responding to developments in technology. The experience was also created to appeal to people who may not see theatre as a place for them, engaging them with the story, firstly in a space they feel comfortable in, and then through the urgency of the narrative, leading them to the live experience.

Creator’s statement

In creating The Foundling we are exploring how a collaboration between theatre makers and technologists might design routes into building intimate, immersive theatre stories that exist just between an individual audience member and a fictional character. Our ambition is for that character to whisper her story directly into the ears of an audience in their personal space, turning their tabletop into a theatre providing an experience that is more immediate, compelling and accessible. The Foundling is a story of scale and duration, told in surprising spaces, through technological tools new to theatre and its audiences.

Technical summary

The Foundling is a smartphone experience with object recognition, AR, conversational chatbot AI and binaural sound created for the home. The user equipment is designed to be simple to operate and accessible: smartphones and headphones.

Project team details

  • Sharon Clark – Creative Director
  • Emily Williams – Executive Producer
  • Hattie Gregory – Producer
  • Claire Skelcey – Communications
  • Coral Manton – AI and AR Developer
  • Tom Metcalfe – Product Designer
  • Helen Skiera – Sound Designer and Composer

Team profile

Raucous is an ever-evolving collective of theatre makers, technologists, composers and designers who investigate how theatre can be made more immediate, urgent and immersive for an audience.

The team harnesses different creative and technological practices to tell stories that are immersive, vital and visceral; creating worlds and characters that have technology sewn into their narrative fabric.

…the mingling of performance with technology is brilliantly unobtrusive and effective.” The Guardian on The Stick House

Past work

  • 2017 – The Ice Road
  • 2015 – The Stick House