The BBSRC funded immersive theatre show Deadinburgh won the best Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths public engagement event at the national Engage Competition 2014 awards.
The Enlightenment Café's Deadinburgh was produced by LAStheatre, with scientists and public health researchers bringing epidemiology and bioscience alive - or rather dead - through a zombie immersive theatre experience. Using the scenario of a zombie epidemic, actors played the infected hordes and besieged soldiers in a 'quarantine zone', and the audience encountered genuine scientists using real science to solve a fictitious disease.
The show included BBSRC researchers from Edinburgh University and The Roslin Institute, explaining their expertise in cell biology and virology alongside experts in computer modelling and epidemiology, public health, neuroscience and more. Based on what they learnt from the researchers the show culminated with the audience having to decide on the fate of the city.
Deadinburgh was one of more than 230 entries to the Engage Competition 2014, organised by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE). The event is held as part of Universities Week, a week-long celebration of public engagement with research to showcase the broad range of high quality activities inspiring and involving public audiences.
Deadinburgh made people question 'what it means to be human' whilst showing them how real life science could be used to address a crisis and the decision making processes involved in managing disease outbreaks. The show ran for four nights with 250 people fleeing to Edinburgh's Summerhall to escape the zombie hordes each evening.
BBSRC made it possible for pupils from Edinburgh's Liberton High School to join in the excitement and hear from some of the UK's top scientists.
"I just wanted to say a big thank you for the opportunity our pupils had to attend the performance. The feedback from both staff and pupils was hugely positive," said David Russell, Deputy Head Teacher at Liberton High School.
Thanks to BBSRC funding the show was able to put on day time sessions for 14-year-old pupils from Liberton High School as well as young people from the Epilepsy Scotland support group and Impact Arts.
Deadinburgh biomaths educational materials were developed alongside the show to support science and maths teachers across the UK. The resources have now been downloaded over 3,000 times.