The CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratories (AAHL) is a world-class biological research, diagnosis, surveillance and response institution situated on the outskirts of Geelong, Victoria. As part of our research into themes of epidemiology and disease as part of our upcoming 2013 production at the CSIRO Discovery Centre, we visited AAHL and met with some of their most experienced staff over two days. AAHL works on a broad palette of animal health issues, ranging from those with potentially catastrophic economic impact, such as possible foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks in livestock, to issues whose impact predominantly concerns human health, including their high-profile discovery of and research into the Hendra virus. In the case of an outbreak, AAHL has the capacity to screen ten thousand samples per day, and offers laboratory space that operates at the highest level of biosecurity possible in order to work with pathogens of appalling lethality.

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‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ is the name we use when referring to the style of performance whereby, as in the legendary book series of that title, the audience is able to navigate through a story by making a series of consecutive decisions that determine which of a pre-determined set of endings takes place. This works through a series of storyline nodes, operating like non-interactive cutscenes, with two or more options branching from each one – the graph below from FlowingData¬†shows a typical structure.

CYOA techniques in theatre work much the same way – actors perform segments of non-interactive script, interspersed with opportunities for the audience to select one from a number of clearly delineated options. Continue reading »

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