7.7 BILLION! is an interactive musical theatre show-part-on-line-game with a powerful theme, forged in lockdown for theSpaceUk’s Ed Fringe 2020 programme – and worldwide!
It started life as a treatment for a full-scale immersive production, grinding to a halt as a live event just four weeks before it was due to open. The entire company rallied, acquired a camera and ran a 12-hour, four-location shoot on the day before lockdown then over the next three weeks re-wrote the piece as a ‘transmedia’ production for presentation across five social media platforms over seven days. It was premiered in May 2020.
Part film, part game, 300 ‘players’ were invited onto an online site to follow the characters through a series of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook posts including eighty-five minutes of filmed sequences, written and directed in lockdown with a team of writers to create additional narrative.
Producer Paul Ackerley commented: The audience interacts with the actors, and fresh dialogue is written each day in response to audience posts, some of whom are selected to have one-to-one moments with characters over our burner phones. One of our characters even phoned up an audience member at Midnight! The production reached 3,000 people and we got some great feedback.’
This will be UOC TT GRADUATE COMPANY’s third appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe. They are all Musical Theatre Triple Threat professionals with one thing in common – they all graduated from University of Chichester Conservatoire.
Cast member Olivia Ridley commented: ‘Creating a new production is one of the riskiest enterprises in the industry. There are so many ways it can unravel. The responsibility carried by the creative specialists to give us the best possible platform to showcase our skills, is a big one. They themselves are researching and creating their own international productions throughout the year including so there was a huge mutual trust from the start.
7.7 BILLION! Uses Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Masque of the Red Death’ as a starting point and incorporates some other gothic horror short stories. We’ll say no more, other than, when we all had the conversation about ‘what we thought the red death might be in our play’ no-one had ever heard of Covid-19, never mind the idea of a lockdown!
Start experiencing 7.7 BILLION! at 12pm Midday on Saturday 15 August on the SpaceUK website.
7.7 BILLION! then runs a series of episodes hourly until 8pm then continues from 12pm Midday until 8pm on Sunday 16 August. Audience members can catch up by viewing earlier episodes.