User not found: an immersive performance that is changing the face of theatre

Theatre audiences are used to being told to put their phones away when they arrive for a show, but a new performance led by the University of Reading encourages precisely the opposite. User Not Found embraces technology to create an interactive experience to explore the future of social media – and it’s currently taking Edinburgh by storm. Professor Lib Taylor, Principal Investigator of the project, reveals more.

What happens to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, our email, our music, photos and videos when we die?  In a digital age, who is responsible for our internet legacy?

One of the highlights of this year’s Edinburgh Festival is User Not Found, a performance by the theatre company Dante or Die and involving the University of Reading, which addresses exactly this issue.

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Social Media Technologies in Immersive Performance

You are warmly invited to join us in Reading this June for:

USER NOT FOUND: Social Media Technologies in Immersive Performance

A one-day performance symposium

Thursday 28th June from 1.30pm at Minghella Studios, University of Reading


The research project User Not Found: Social Media Technologies in Immersive Performance, based at the University of Reading, is investigating social media in immersive participatory performance. The project is a collaboration between Dante or Die (theatre company), Marmelo Digital (technology company) and the centre for death and society at the University of Bath.


As part of the project, theatre company Dante or Die have teamed up with Marmelo Digital to devise User Not Found, a performance that uses social media to explore the impact personal digital devices has on our grieving process. The audience will participate in the live performance via mobile phones and headphones, as they follow a character’s experience of bereavement.


This one-day symposium aims to explore ideas connected to social media in theatre. We particularly welcome attendees interested in taking part in conversations on issues of liveness, the impact of social media technologies on performance and space and its future potential for technological intermediality and immersivity. It will also address questions around digital legacies, virtual memorialisation, and the impact of social media on the grieving process. The format of the day includes practitioner presentations, panel discussions and a keynote paper that looks at the use of headphones in theatre. The event includes a special evening performance of User Not Found (90 minutes) at South Street Arts Centre, followed by a discussion led by theatre company, Dante or Die and Lib Taylor. Wine and canapés will be served upon arrival at the theatre from 6pm.


To sign up for this FREE event please email Lucy Jeffery via and specify whether you require tickets for the performance as well as the symposium. Tickets for the performance will be allocated on a first come first served basis.



Luke Alexander & Abhinav Bajpai (Co-founders of Marmelo Digital)

Dan Barnard (Artistic director of fanSHEN and lecturer at London South Bank University)

Terry O’Donovan & Daphna Attias (Co-artistic directors of Dante or Die)

Sophie Gunn (Access associate for Dante or Die)

Laurence Hill (Director of the Brighton Digital Festival)

Professor Rosie Klich (University of Essex)

Jack Lowe (Artistic director of curious directive)

Dr Eirini Nedelkopoulou (University of York, St. John)

Dr Jo Scott (University of Salford)

Professor Lib Taylor (University of Reading)

Dr John Troyer (University of Bath)

Janet Vaughan (Designer and co-artistic director of Talking Birds)

Additional contributors to be confirmed.

For further information please contact the organisers, Lib Taylor and Lucy Jeffery:


This symposium is part of the AHRC funded project, User Not Found: Social Media Technologies as Immersive Performance; Principal Investigator Professor Lib Taylor, University of Reading, and Co-Investigator Dr John Troyer, Centre for Death and Society, University of Bath

How an ‘absolute unit’ of a tweet catapulted one rural life museum into the spotlight

By Adam Koszary, Museums and Special Collections Services

The tweet sent from The MERL account that went viral

look at this absolute unit.

Our tweet from the Museum of Rural English Life account was a simple enough command. It accompanied a black and white photo of an Exmoor Horn aged ram found in the archives of the museum, located on the University of Reading’s London Road campus.

But this tweet had a satisfying pay-off. One day on, our Twitter followers had increased by more than 50% – 16,000 and counting – and the tweet itself had surpassed 68,000 likes and 20,000 retweets.

This is not normal for The MERL twitter account, in case you haven’t guessed.

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