Multiverse Lab Community Tour

17-25 July, FREE

People across the North East and Cumbria are being asked to take part in a new interactive installation that will shape the future of health research in the region.

Multiverse Lab was initially launched as an online experience in 2020, and will now tour to venues across the region including the Great North Museum in Newcastle, Hetton Community Pool in County Durham, the Market Place in South Shields, Trinity Square in Gateshead and Carlisle Old Town Hall.

Created by the award-winning Unfolding Theatre, Multiverse Lab will find out what matters to local people when it comes to their health. Visitors will be encouraged to add their voice by recording a message that will be shared with researchers and decision-makers to shape future health and social care research in the region. Over 300 people have already added their voice via the online experience, with topics including mental health, dementia and cancer being the most discussed.

The goal was to create an innovative method to engage more members of the public in health research, led by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre’s Public Involvement lead. The project has been commissioned by several NIHR partners in the North East and North Cumbria, VOICE, The National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA), Newcastle University and The Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Whilst Multiverse Lab is a playful and fun experience to take part in, health research is more important than ever in 2021. Many of the commissioning partners have been involved in ground-breaking and innovative research projects that are making life better for people living in the North East and beyond. This includes the work of Professor Roy Taylor; whose study into a low-calorie diet approach and its ability to put Type 2 diabetes in remission is informing new treatments for Type 2 diabetes patients. And NIHR Newcastle In Vitro Diagnostics Co-operative has been involved in national research efforts to accelerate how quickly promising Covid-19 tests make it into real-world use.

The touring Multiverse Lab installation mirrors the online experience and invites visitors to discover 100+ years of health breakthroughs, as well as hearing about the cutting-edge research being carried out by researchers in the North East and Cumbria and listening to what health issues matter to other people living in the region. To give as many people as possible the opportunity to contribute their views, accessibility features have been built into the Multiverse Lab, including audio description and BSL interpretation.

Unfolding Theatre has built a reputation for creating innovative, joyful theatre and installations. Multiverse Lab builds upon the success of a similar project in 2018 called Multiverse Arcade, which was part of the Great Exhibition of the North. Multiverse Arcade inspired 20,000 young people to think about the future and provided a platform for them to highlight the change they wanted to see in the world. The creative team for Multiverse Lab includes designer Imogen Cloet, graphic designer Wayne Gamble, sound designer Garry Lydon and Teesside-based digital production developers TUCan Studios. The installation also includes audio description from rapper Kay Greyson and BSL interpretation by performer EJ Raymond.

By touring the North East and Cumbria as well as offering people a chance to take part online, Multiverse Lab will reach thousands of people living in the region.

Annie Rigby, Artistic Director, Unfolding Theatre says:

“We were delighted to explore how the approach we developed in Multiverse Arcade could be adapted to gather people’s opinions about health research and have real impact. We are acutely aware of the health inequalities that exist in the North East so to be able to take Multiverse Lab out on tour where more people can have their voices heard is a brilliant opportunity, and will really help to address the health issues that matter most to our communities.”

Professor Lynne Corner, Director of VOICE and COO of UK National Innovation Centre for Ageing, Newcastle University says:

Now more than ever we need to find ways to involve the public in health research so that it responds to our changing health needs. The pandemic has brought health inequalities in our local communities into sharp focus. Multiverse Lab is just one of a number of ways we are reaching out to individuals and community groups to ensure health research responds to local health needs and interests.

The North East and Cumbria is home to world-class scientific research that has been helping to improve physical health and wellbeing of the population for many years. We are delighted that Multiverse Lab is able to celebrate and highlight the incredible efforts of our local scientists and research community who are collectively advancing heathcare for us all.

We hope the people that visit Multiverse Lab will not only enjoy the experience but also continue to work with researchers by signing up to VOICE (a network of people right across the UK interested in supporting health research) and join us in delivering local health research that makes a lasting difference to all our health and wellbeing.”

Multiverse Lab will tour across the North East and Cumbria from 17 – 25 July. The installation is free, fully accessible, and suitable for all ages. For tour dates and more information visit www.unfoldingtheatre.co.uk/multiverse-lab