As part of the innovation festival FUTURES2021, Bath-based theatre company Kilter has developed an immersive theatrical location-based digital walking tour that shows Bath in a way we’ve never seen it before. All you need in a smartphone.

Test Tubes and Time Travel takes us through the extraordinary untold worlds of Bath’s scientific superheroes with a message from the first Time Travel Agency in the year 2164. Forget what they told you at school and take a trip with the first English Scientist to make imaginative leaps and experimental bounds through 1000 years of Bathonian breakthroughs.

For the last five years, Kilter has worked with the Universities of Bath and Bristol to develop creative ways to facilitate conversations between the academic institutions and the general public. This has seen them work in collaboration with a range of disciplines from Body Psychology to Synthetic Biology. 

Test Tubes and Time Travel is a bringing together of the whole scientific research community at University of Bath with the historical scientific pioneers who have lived and worked in Bath over the centuries. Space research at the university today still builds on the revelatory discoveries of Caroline and William Herschel who discovered infrared whilst living in Bath. Contemporary geological studies wouldn’t have been possible without the foundation stones laid by Bath resident, William Smith (The Father of Geology), in the late 18th Century. William Frieze Green invented motion pictures here in Bath. Isaac Pitman introduced shorthand. The list goes on.

This imaginative tour, created by Kilter, takes participants to quiet corners and busy hot-spots around the city to expose more and more examples of how future-defining ground-breaking work at the university has been influenced by often overlooked forebears here in Bath. The city is internationally celebrated for its arts and culture but little is said about the scientific break-throughs that took place across the centuries. In its playful, intriguing conclusion, the tour finally reveals the remarkable identity of its digital host – a man with a growing reputation as the First English Scientist.

Kilter’s Artistic Director, Oliver Langdon, spent a large part of his lock-down year as a Research Fellow with the Bristol + Bath Creative RandD programme. In response to the restrictions on live theatre, Olly engaged with a number of new ways to provide exciting site-based performances with Kilter. Test Tubes and Time Travel uses smartphone geo-fencing technology to hide and reveal content in the tour and motivate audiences to engage: each of the nine films on the tour can only be enjoyed in the specific location it relates to. It is designed for everybody to enjoy – you certainly don’t need any scientific or technological prior knowledge.

It’s great for visitors to the Bath, families in Bath and for people that think they know it well. The smart phone directions are easy to follow and the fast-moving, funny and fascinating films will be a refreshing treat for adults and children aged 8+ with parents and grandparents in tow.

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