This project was in the works for a long time – over two years, in the build-up to the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. It comprised four very immersive plays, an interactive online story and a treasure hunt to find the missing seed of the title – and I had the pleasure of writing the whole thing.
The story is inspired by the true adventures of a group of Victorian plant hunters who risked their lives to find exotic plants and bring them back to Britain – specifically, to a group of stately home gardens just outside London. That’s where the plays were staged, surrounded by the very plants they feature. One of those gardens is home to the Millennium Seed Bank.
There was also a live, ten-week online story playing out on Facebook involving a researcher at the MSB. The Facebook page that she ran, attracting over 5,000 very active followers, is still live if you want to scroll back through the timeline.
The thing I loved about this project was that it put me as close to the audience as possible. Of course, the shows themselves were extremely atmospheric and interactive – they were produced by Goat & Monkey, a theatre company with a very ‘Punchdrunk’ sensibility. But the real fun for me was online, where I could mail and message and chat with the audience (in character) without the long-winded sign-off processes I’ve had to work with lately.
The Seed was part of the Cultural Olympiad, highlighting British achievements in science and culture. There are more details over here and you can download the Collected Plays here – including a summary of how the whole online adventure unfolded.