City Varieties, Leeds - Interactive Touchscreen

The City Varieties Music Hall in Leeds was built in 1865 and has recently undergone a multi-million pound refurbishment.

It has a large archive of interesting items related to the large number of superstar acts that have graced the stage over the years. It wanted an interactive touchscreen that would open up these archives to a new audience, to be located in the learning room. We worked with respected designers Electric Angel to create a unique and fun experience.

The concept for the 'Interactive Archive' came from Rebecca at Electric Angel Design and impressed the theatre's education department with its strong idea winning the contract for the Electric Angel-Askew Brook collaboration.

Users are invited to engage with archive content by populating their own variety show with characters from the Music Hall's rich history. This acts as a gateway to explore historical content and even allows users to contribute their own memories to the archive. The design developed by Adrian at Electric Angel mixes imagery reminiscent of a Victorian puppet theatre with Terry Gilliam-esque animations to bring archival photos and illustrations to life. Period typography inspired by theatre bills keeps the design uniquely rooted in the City Varieties - the oldest surviving purpose-built music hall in Britain.

Built solely using HTML, CSS and JavaScript the main variety show section doesn't need an internet connection which means it can be moved throughout the venue if required. In order to make the archive search work we needed to automatically import all of the information from a number of Excel spreadsheets.

Finally, the touchscreen unit had to be configured so that it was safe for children to use and protected from the general public. We implemented a number of checks and steps that mean illicit content cannot be accessed and the operating system remains unseen.

Build by Askew Brook

Design & Concept by Electric Angel