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Recent Productions

Leigh Spinners Mill

A new production in collaboration with the Manchester Royal Exchange's Leigh Ambassadors group at Spinners Mill for family audiences, inspired by real historical events.

In addition to support from King's College London and Sussex University, this production is made possible by a generous commission from the Manchester Royal Exchange, and will feature as part of their Den pop-up festival.

Listen to an episode of the Exchange's podcast Connecting Tales discussing the show, with Tom, Elliott, and Leigh Ambassador (and part time ghost) Mike Burwin.

Emma Bradburn, intern for the ‘Civic Theatres: A Place for Towns’ research project wrote an account of the show on her blog.

What is it?

  • A mixture of coding education, Augmented Reality and live performance in an immersive storytelling experience.
  • An ordinary Year 5 assembly is interrupted by the arrival of Undersecretary Quill, asking for their help. This begins a Ghost Hunter apprenticeship, a series of four coding challenges given to them by Professor Bray. They stress thinking like a programmer – learning to read and debug code, think about the steps of an algorithm, and basic logic structures – through coding their ghost detector in Make Code.
  • Two weeks later, they explore a haunted Battersea Arts Centre in an immersive live performance. The show is structured like an investigation: Students split into teams, studying artifacts for clues and going out into ‘the field,’ using their devices to find evidence of the spirit's activity.
    With the evidence they uncover, students learned about the building's history, who the ghost is and why she is haunting it, unmask a villain, find a stolen a necklace, clear the ghost's name and set her free.
  • The Digital Ghost Hunt was featured in Immersive Arcade's Best of British since 2001.

The Story

The Digital Ghost begins when a normal school assembly was interrupted by Deputy Undersecretary Quill from the Ministry of Real Paranormal Hygiene, there to recruit the school’s Year 5 class into the Department’s Ghost Removal Section. She tells them it’s due to their unique ability to see and interact with ghostly spirits.

Under the tutelage of Deputy Undersecretary Quill and Professor Bray, the Ministry’s chief scientist, the young ghost hunters must track down the Battersea Arts Centre ghost by learning how to program their own paranormal detectors. Their devices – made from two microcomputers, a Raspberry Pi and a Micro:bit – allow the children to identify objects and locations touched by the ghost. Each has different capabilities, forcing the classmates to work together to discover ghostly traces, translate Morse code using flickering lights and find messages left in ectoplasm, or ultraviolet paint. Meanwhile, the ghost communicates through a mixture of traditional theatrical effects and the poltergeist potential of smart home technology. Together, the pupils unravel the mystery of the ghost's haunting and help to set it free.

Notable Hauntings

The Battersea Arts Centre

A scratch of The Digital Ghost Hunt was performed at the Battersea Arts Centre in November, 2018, funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council's Next Generation of Immersive Experiences program.

York Theatre Royal

The project was given further funding from the AHRC for impact & engagement in 2019 to adapt the show into a family experience, in collaboration with Pilot Theatre. A limited, sold-out run of the show premiered at the York Theatre Royal's 275th anniversary in August 2019.

The Garden Museum

On All Souls Day 2019 the project performed a museum-late experience in partnership with the Garden Museum in London. This new format sent young ghost hunters up a medieveal clocktower and digging for clues in the gardens of the 14th century St. Mary at Lambeth church.

The SEEK Ghost Detector


The SEEK Ghost Detector is a Micro:bit connected to a DecaWave DWM1001-DEV Ultra wideband radio, housed in a custom designed laser cut shell. The Micro:bit served as an accessible controller that students can program. By using Ultra-wideband Radio for indoor positioning, we leaving ghostly trails in Mixed Reality (MR) space for the students to find and interpret. There were four different detector types, all with different functions: detecting ghostly energy, translating Morse code when the ghost flashed the lights, and translating signs left by the ghost in Ultraviolet Ectoplasm.

The custom library that the students used to program their Micro:bits was written in MakeCode and C++ (available on Github.) An earlier mark 1 detector that used a Raspberry Pi was written in Python 3 (available in the Ghosthunter library on Github)


Deputy Undersecretary Quill

Louisa Hollway

Professor Bray

Hemi Yeroham

Building Manager Michael DeSouza

Michael Cusick

The ghost of Molly Perkins

Angela Clerkin

Junior Agents

Dan de la Motte

Amaarah Roze

Lauren-Deanna Meredith-Stubbs

Ndabane Emmanuel Makula


A message from Prof. Bray

Project Team

Elliott Hall

Concept, Co-Creator, and Co-Investigator

Elliott Hall is a Senior Software Engineer at King's Digital Lab. He is a developer and novelist with over fifteen years of experience in software development and digital research.

He is also the author of three novels published by John Murray, the Strange Trilogy, as well as works in film and theatre. The Ghost Hunt is his first attempt to combine his creative and development work.

He created the Ghost Hunt because he felt the current computer science curriculum isn’t engaging enough students. He wants to shift the context of how computer science is perceived, from something boring, boyish and middle class back into a tool of the imagination.

Tom Bowtell

Co-creator and Director

Tom Bowtell is the Director of BAFTA-winning creative education company KIT Theatre and was previously co-director of immersive theatre company Coney.

He is the creator of the Adventures in Learning (AiL) system. Adventures in Learning (AiL) combine immersive theatre, digital interactions and game mechanics to deliver formal learning. Projects are designed in dialogue with teachers to ensure that teachers’ learning targets are embedded at their heart. Writer and director Tom Bowtell conceived Adventures in Learning in 2008 with the ambition to explore the potential of immersive theatre and game mechanics to inspire children to learn.

Professor Mary Krell

Primary Investigator

Mary is a digital artist whose work spans performance, interactivity and narrative. Her work has been shown on multiple continents and she regularly collaborates with artists and thinkers from around the world.

Originally from the USA, she has been based in the UK at the University of Sussex since 2002. Prior to coming to Sussex, she was the Head of the Design Department at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. Before entering higher education, Mary worked as a digital designer at Seattle's Saltmine Creative during the initial dot.com boom of the 1990s. While at Saltmine she worked on projects for Wizards of the Coast, Microsoft and the Pokemon franchise.

Mary has also been an associate member of Forced Entertainment as a digital author. With them, she created a number of interactive works that were exhibited around the world at venues including the ZKM (in Karlsruhe, Germany), the ICA (in London) and The Art Institute of Chicago. Nightwalks, an interactive virtual reality piece created in collaboration with the company won the Transmediale in 2000.

Carina Westling


Carina is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Sussex, and will bring her research expertise in interaction design and the immersive aesthetic to the project, as well as extensive experience in communication design, scaling methodologies, project and production management.

Her book Immersion and Participation in Punchdrunk was published in 2019 (Bloomsbury Methuen Drama).