Prepare to be intrigued by peculiar storytelling machines in this century-old arcade exhibit.

A Curious Arcade is a unique theatrical installation of storytelling machines, an array of fun-fair curiosities that engage intergenerational audiences aged 8+ in short interactive, choose-your-own adventure radio-play experiences.

Presented in a pop-up arcade exhibit designed for foyers, galleries, town halls, shopfronts or other non-conventional performance spaces, these elaborate machines are the creations of virtuosic Australian inventor Celeste Mackellan, an obscure figure who disappeared in 1929 along with the mechanical curiosities she built.

Fascinated by Mackellan’s mysterious disappearance, an international consortium of collectors and creatives from Imaginary Theatre are slowly working to locate, extract and lovingly restore her machines to their former glory.

At A Curious Arcade, audiences can now experience these mechanical wonders as they tell timeless stories, a century old, that both surprise and delight.

A Curious Arcade has been designed to run as a COVID-Safe production. Presentation includes exhibition attendants to undergo regular cleaning of all touch interactive machine surfaces.

Venue Format
Theatre, Hall, Black Box Venue
Technical Rating
D, The production can be modified to suit most venues
Touring Party

The work features an audience capacity of 10 at one time, contingent on the COVID-Safe capacity of each venue. Each of the machines offers audiences an experience of between 5 & 15mins. The duration of an experience engaging with all 4 machines is approximately 35mins.

It can be presented in 3 formats.

1: Coin operated. The ‘A Curious Arcade’ machines accept gold coins, allowing presenters to generate income without needing to sell tickets.

2: Ticketed. ‘A Curious Arcade’ can be presented as a ticketed event, running a daily maximum of 14 sessions for 1 group of up to 5 people per session. We recommend selling 1 family ticket for up to 5 people per session. Each audience group will stay a maximum of 45 minutes, ensuring only 2 groups of 5 in the space at one time.

3: Free play: Those interested can present ‘A Curious Arcade’ as a free attraction at a venue, conference, festival or event, allowing audiences to engage at no cost.

Imaginary Theatre are Queensland's leading creators of art and arts experiences for children and their communities.

Imaginary engage children and adults in contemporary multi-art form experiences that excite imaginations, inspire creative responses, & empower children to collaboratively think, make & do as key contributors to their communities. Over 180,000 people have seen or participated in Imaginary projects since 2006 in Queensland, nationally, & internationally.

Company Website

Unique Selling Point

‘A Curious Arcade’, part theatre, part game, part radio-play, is a production unlike anything audiences are likely to have experienced before.

The work brings children & adults together in a rich shared experience, sparking conversation and collaboration between generations, urging young and old to work together, solve problems and find the magic hidden amongst the every-day.

'A Curious Arcade’ is made for non-traditional spaces where theatre or storytelling may not ordinarily be found. A surprising activation of public space, it's designed to engage audiences in “participative experiences where they can use and develop their own creativity”, a hallmark of creative place-making.

Marketing Materials

‘A Curious Arcade’ is currently in production, but by November 2020 will offer a comprehensive suite of marketing assets including:

  • Marketing copy
  • Print material templates
  • Promotional teaser video
  • High quality images
  • Social media templates
  • Social media videos

A Curious Arcade has been designed to run as a COVID-Safe production. Presentation includes exhibition attendants to undergo regular cleaning of the touch interactive machine surfaces.

Community Engagement

Imaginary Theatre would love to explore opportunities for bespoke community engagement designed to deepen the ‘A Curious Arcade’ experience.

Possibilities include: For children: Choose Your Own Adventure workshops for young writers: Collaborating to create incredible divergent stories inspired by A Curious Arcade. For young people & adults: Physical Computing & Touch Electronics: Exploring the potential of interactive technology to share stories. For artists: Creating immersive & interactive experiences, exploring Imaginary’s practice in creating contemporary theatre works utilising technology & design.

Community Engagement activities will attract additional fees, scoped on a case by base basis in collaboration with presenters.