Created by the ever-inventive TalkShow, (previously known as Toot), Telethon is a fresh, playful and clever spin on the marathon phone-in tv trope. Inspired by contemporary moral psychology, Telethon explores groupism, public philanthropy, moral certainty and anger.
Telethon offers a unique interactive experience for live audiences, alongside bold video design and features integrated captioning and moments of integrated BSL interpretation/translation. The show will be livestreamed by theatrical.solutions from Shoreditch Town Hall for two nights and be available on demand for 48 hours.
You’re bringing Telethon to Reading, Salford and Shoreditch, what can you tell us about it?
If you come and see Telethon, you’ll be part of the ‘studio audience’ of a TV charity broadcast that begins with good-will and optimism – before skidding badly off the rails! It’s a funny, thought-provoking piece about our inability to put differences aside. It’s also got amazing video design, original soundtrack, integrated captions and a big surprise at the end…
What inspired you to create a show revolving around a television charity phone-in?
In our work the audience is always part of the story, so we’re interested in ideas that imply a role for the audience, and that could be funny, strange or absurd. We thought those marathon TV charity events have a lot in them that is quite silly and funny, but also that taps into serious things about morality, doing the right thing and how we judge one another’s conduct.
Why do you think it’s important to explore heavy themes with a comedic element?
You can always find ‘heaviness’ in the world, but we hope the humour in our work makes tackling those issues engaging, and ultimately impactful. We’re not trying to tell people how they should live, we’re as flawed as anybody, and I think there’s a lot of humour in that too.
Without giving away any secrets, how will the audience get involved with the production?
Mainly, just that we speak to the audience directly in their role as the studio audience! There are some specific things that the audience do – but it’s always a choice. We love making audiences feel comfortable and welcome – we’re not about putting people on the spot.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge for you in staging this show?
I think the biggest thing is the ambitious technical challenges. We have actors on stage in conversation with actors on video, integrated captions, four video surfaces, a live-feed camera and ambitious original music and sound-design. It’s a lot to integrate but we’re fortunate to have a great creative team making it all happen.
What would you say to anyone thinking of booking to see Telethon?
DO IT! We love welcoming audiences to our shows and we take real care to create work that is enjoyable and entertaining , as well as thought-provoking.