Actors create immersive ‘audio adventures’ for Stoke Newington

Max kneels with a fist to his mouth and JimJack stands with a long jacket and headphones on, in black and white.

Max (left) and JimJack (right). - Credit: Fable Feast

“Audio adventures” are coming to outdoor hotspots in Stoke Newington from December, giving people the chance to escape into a fantasy world while walking around their local area.

Jack Whitam, who goes by JimJack, and Max Gell have set up Fable Feast, a creative company that pushes the boundaries of theatre and brings stories to life in a Covid-safe way.

Fable Feast hopes to put QR codes in locations around Hackney, allowing anyone to have an “immersive audio adventure” with a phone and headphones, explained JimJack.

One of the audio experiences they are hoping to set up will be at St Mary’s Church in Stoke Newington in December.

JimJack described it as a “site-specific adventure where we’ll turn the churchyard into a fantasy world” for five minutes.

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The experiences are ambisonic, which means 360-degree audio is used.

JimJack said: “It tricks the ear and the mind.

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“We can make it sound like you are in the middle of a jungle, or that you are surrounded by a group of people.”

The aim is to offer unique events that encourage passers-by to “engage with the space”, he added.

Another immersive experience would appear in Clissold Park in a spot overlooking the lake.

Fable Feast has chosen a folkloric poem featuring Jenny Greenteeth for this location, since it is set there, overlooking the bullrushes.

“We’re going to try over the next few months to dot around so that people have a few things to interact with in the park,” said Max.

At the start of the first lockdown, the two actors were writing scripts in preparation for the theatres reopening.

But when they remained closed, the pair instead developed “bring your own device” experiences that take place outside.

While the creative industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, JimJack said that creating his own work this year has been “incredibly empowering”.

“I think it has kept us mentally strong as well,” Max added. “If we hadn’t changed direction and stuck with writing (play scripts), we wouldn’t have been doing anything with momentum, we would have been waiting for that thing to happen.”

Max described the venture as “future-proof” as “people are finding new ways of experiencing stories – ours is one of them”.

“In times of hardship and adversity, creatives tend to find ways to slip through those gaps and make something out of it,” said JimJack.

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