The village of Fallow Cross is in trouble. Hercules, the Mayor, is dead, and a powerful sorceress has taken over, casting the village and the surrounding Kingdom into rain and darkness. Without Hercules’ protection, all of the villagers have fled — and only the Oracles remain. Hercules gave them the clue to saving the village, and they know it’s a race against time to recover the pieces of the puzzle and reveal the secrets hidden in the foundations of the village itself. But they can’t do it alone. . . .
The Oracles is a technologically enabled educational experience created by Punchdrunk Enrichment, the educational arm of the immersive theater company behind the long-running New York hit Sleep No More, for primary school children in the North London district where Punchdrunk is headquartered. Inspired by the myth of Hercules and his twelve labors, it is designed to engage pupils in Greek mythology and mathematics and to improve digital literacy.
Cutting-edge technology, developed with Google’s Creative Lab and Grumpy Sailor, creates an extraordinary form of audience interaction that blends digital and physical environments as it unfolds over a period of several weeks. The experience starts with a tablet game in the classroom that introduces students to the world of Fallow Cross and presents them with a call to adventure from the Oracles. Through gameplay and visits to Fallow Cross, the children must recover missing objects to restore protection to the village.
“This fully functioning village, named Fallow Cross, is not situated in the heart of the countryside, though. It has been created by Punchdrunk, the company known for such immersive theatre hits as ‘The Masque of the Red Death,’ in a set of warehouses in Tottenham Hale, north London.”
“It’s a remarkable set design, though the real innovation is happening out of sight. While exploring Fallow Cross, children carry what looks like a lantern but is in fact a positional tracking device. Working in partnership with Google, Punchdrunk has rigged the whole space with sensors that track the lanterns with pinpoint accuracy. As groups learn new skills and level up, they unlock new areas in the physical world, with the lamp opening a series of locked doors. ‘If they are a level three player they can’t get in, if they are a level four the door is open,’ Barrett says, enthusiastically rattling a locked door for emphasis.”