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The Difference Engine

Created by Walk the Plank with Thingumajig Theatre

Originally created for the Manchester International FestivalThe Difference Engine was an interactive journey through the courtyard of the Manchester Town Hall (July 2009) and then the 1830’s Warehouse in the Museum of Science and Industry (November 2009).

Charles Babbage, the inventor and mathematician who in the 1830’s designed what could have been the first computer, is trapped in the synapses of his own preserved brain! The audience sets off on a steampunk adventure to help Babbage by solving the spider’s riddles, decoding the counting madman’s Hall of Shadows, and discovering the secret workings in the Arcade of Inventions.

Alongside the show, a programme of engagement with six local schools was led by The Centre for Urban Education. As part of the Creative Partnerships ‘Enquiry’ programme, children, young people and their teachers worked with creative practitioners to explore ideas inspired by The Difference Engine.

“… the highlight for us was Walk The Plank’s interactive play, The Difference Engine, about the inventor of the earliest computer, ingeniously woven around the town hall’s atmospheric courtyards…” –Paul Ogden, CityLife



Producer: Liz Pugh

Writer/Dramaturg: Kathy Kim and Andrew Kim

Director: Andrew Kim

Designer: Jo Pocock

Machine Makers: Tim Greaves, Jon Large, Bryan Tweddle

Set, Props, Puppets: Eilidh Bryan, Michelle Jones, Emma Jean Kemp, Gill Smith

Performers: Eilidh Bryan, Tony Cairns, Paul Hine, Andrew Kim, Kathy Kim, Sonya Moorhead

Costume: Ildiko Szabo, Fi Carrington

Sound Design: Spencer Marsden (Sound by the Tube)

Original Music Kathy Kim

Lighting Design: DBN Lighting

Production Management: Billie Klinger, Sandra Blue, Lela Keighley

Stage Management: Sandra Blue


Commissioned by Manchester International Festival, the Museum of Science and Industry and the Centre for Urban Education at Manchester Metropolitan University

Produced by Manchester International Festival and 
Walk The Plank