Alma Mater

NB – For information about Alma Mater at Scotland Street School Museum as part of Creative Mackintosh 2014, >>CLICK HERE<<

‘The world’s first piece of iPad theatre. Eerie, unsettling and very, very clever ****’
− The Independent.

Alma Mater is a filmic tour for one that fuses high-technology with our trademark lo-fi charm to create a piece that sits between theatre, film and installation. Individual audience members enter a specially constructed, full-scale child’s bedroom to immerse themselves- via iPad- in the world of a little girl in this handheld, 21st century fairy tale.  With an original score by John De Simone performed by experimental octet Ensemble Thing and cinematography from award-winner Anna Chaney, Alma Mater is a haunting meditation on family, familiarity and growing-up.

‘A spine-tingling encounter****’ The Guardian
‘Wonderfully strange and suggestive ****’ The Sunday Times
‘A wholly new theatrical experience****’ The List

Alma Mater has delighted thousands of visitors around the world at seasons in Edinburgh, Melbourne, London and Cologne. Over 100 articles, interviews and reviews have been written or broadcast about Alma Mater in four continents and six languages. The piece has won critical acclaim on its travels so far with 20+ four and five star reviews from major papers.

Introducing Alma Mater

It begins with an Alice in Wonderland moment: you’re standing in front of a white door, wondering, “do I knock?” when the iPad in your hand shows you the self-same door… opening. So through you go, totally alone except for the music sending melody- atmospheres through your headphones and the film now running on your hand-held screen. It’s panning around the little all-white bedroom you’re standing in – only, it’s not exactly the same. But even as you’re noticing the differences, a merry little girl in a stripey sleep-suit is suddenly in the frame and her bright-as-a-button face will lure you into another dimension, experiencing a virtual but intensely vivid, encounter for the next 20 minutes.
– Mary Brennan, The Herald

To get an overview of the project try starting with the following articles or watch the clip from BBC news below.

How does Alma Mater work?

Alma Mater combines HD video with high-fidelity sound displayed on an iPad with headphones.  The film, shot to a cinematic quality, moves through the space requiring the audience to move with it.  Operating in real-time the living film seductively overlays the pre-recorded performances and imagery onto the uninhabited site in the mind of the audience. A new score performed by Ensemble Thing, recorded to fit the film exactly, accompanies the visuals musically.

Alma Mater uses the concept of a ‘blank site’ to celebrate the power of the imagination to rise above the humdrum and envisage a more colourful existence.  From the confines of a plain room, the film transforms the present reality to incorporate past and future characters, landscapes and architectures.

The narrative of the film follows characters around the pod and into virtual locations, physically drawing the audience through encounters and experiences that gently shift their perceptions of space, time and performance.  The rich immersion offered by the HD video and high fidelity audio on iPad coupled with the solo encounter of the room amount to an affecting, intimate experience in which each audience member illuminates and breathes life into the empty space.


Production History

In 2010 Fish & Game were commissioned to make a new site specific performance for the IETM Festival in Glasgow.  We responded by creating Alma Mater@Scotland Street School, which was an iPad ‘filmic journey for one’ around Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s iconic school building.  The piece was a silent film with a new contemporary classical score that guided audiences round the 100 year old school.  Click here for more on Alma Mater@Scotland Street School. Based on the success of this piece we developed an ‘Alma Mater Model’ for making work with this concept and technology.  In 2011 we won Made in Scotland funding (the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund) to enable us to develop Alma Mater and premiere it at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

For this project, the Alma Mater Model transferred the themes and intricacies of the first piece to a ready-made site/set that can tour. A pod is constructed from light but sturdy flats with dimensions of 2mx3m and can accommodate 1 participant every 20 minutes.  Alma Mater has been shown around the world:

The Future of Alma Mater

We use specially commissioned video and music to guide audience members through significant buildings to reveal the stories the spaces contain. The work sits between theatre, live art, film and interactive tour. The projects are immersive and vividly stimulate the senses. So far we have used the model to develop new projects for:

We are working on a variety of further uses of the Alma Mater model and are happy to discuss these with communities, venues, funders and programmers. We are particularly interested in working with buildings or sites of historical or social significance. This model can be used with communities wishing to celebrate their shared use and understanding of space and place. This approach also offers possibilities to museums, galleries and public spaces to be activated and explored in an innovative way. Please contact us if you would like to find out more or arrange a screening in Scotland Street School Museum.

Touring Enquiries

For all enquiries about booking Alma Mater outside of the UK contact Fenn Gordon at Performing Lines, Sydney.
>> Performing Lines
>> Performing Lines Alma Mater Info Pack
>> Call Performing Lines: 612 9319 0066 (Sydney)

For UK touring enquiries contact Ed Littlewood.
>> Email Ed
>> Call Ed: 07956 255 186


UK Reviews


Australian Coverage
  • Click here for a Round-up of Australian Press about Alma Mater.  Includes The Age, RealTime, Arts Hub, Theatre People, Sydney Morning Herald and more.


German Reviews


UK Features

Television Features & Interviews

International Features

Media Contacts

Ruth Marsh on T: +41 (0) 7824468396 E:


Created by Fish & Game

Directed by Robert Walton and Eilidh MacAskill

Produced by Eilidh MacAskill

Cinematography by Anna Chaney

Music by John De Simone

Performed by Lucy Gaizely, Albie Gaizely-Gardiner, Lyla Gaizely-Gardiner, Raedie Gaizely-Gardiner, Gary Gardiner, Becki Gerrard, Thom Scullion and Mr Feathers.

Music Performed by Ensemble Thing –

Musicians : Colin Broom – Conductor, Jay Capperauld – Alto Saxophone, Helena Flint – Viola, Ed Lucas – Double Bass, Ross McCrae – Trombone, Lizy Sirat – Trumpet, Seb Thirlway – Piano

Production Team – Jodie Wilkinson, Kevin Wratten, Ben Vale

Post-production – Gavin Rizza

UK boxes designed and constructed by Phil Bown and Hugh Speirs

Technical Drawings created by Claire Halleran

Australian set constructed by Jim Stenson and his team at Arts House

At the Edinburgh Fringe
Operated and Hosted by: Sarah Bradley, Fiona Manson, Corrie McKendrick

Edinburgh Fringe run thanks to
RSAMD, The Arches, all at Remarkable Arts especially Davey and Oskar and the box moving/painting team, the Macaskill family, Jen Davies for her photography.

At Arts House
Operated and Hosted by: Simon Conlon, Lulah Harte, Shannon Loughnane, Jayson Patterson, Gary Ward

Melbourne run thanks to Angharad, Jackie, Jim and all the Arts House team, Kara Ward at Moriarty’s Project Inc., Fenn Gordon and the team at Performing Lines, Victorian College of the Arts, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, The Arches, Anita Clarke and Made in Scotland, Ryan Galbraith, and all at Starling.

At studiobühneköln
Operated and Hosted by: Becki Gerrard and Thom Scullion

Cologne run thanks to Kobby, Tim, Charlotte, Carolin, Putz and all the team at studiobühneköln.

London run thanks to all the team at BAC plus Jodie Wilkinson and Ed Littlewood.

Created with the support of Made In Scotland 2011




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