There are two types of ticket. Everyone gets a Standard ticket. You have to earn an Elite ticket. Together, a story will be told … of a girl from Lowground spun from spiderweb and a boy from Highground carved from clouds. Standards work to build the story, Elites control which path the story takes. Hidden Track Theatre perform their show Standard: Elite at Bedlam Theatre this Fringe, Elliot from Hidden Track spoke with The Fountain about it in more detail.
TF: You are performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, how exciting?
Super exciting! We’ve been making work for years, but for a long time we didn’t think we’d be able to take a show up to Edinburgh. It’s always presented as the Holy Grail of industry showcases, but taking a show up takes a lot of time, resources and ultimately – money.
However, thanks to the support of a lot of people (particularly Oxford Playhouse, Bedlam Theatre and several productions worth of Theatre Tax Refund) we’re finally able to bring our show about class and social mobility up to the place where all the gatekeepers go…
This show has been in development for over three years now, we’re really proud of it, and we hope we’ve got it honed and ready for Edinburgh audiences.
TF: Standard:Elite certainly sounds interesting, what is the premise?
Standard:Elite is a piece of interactive theatre looking at class, privilege and social mobility. It splits its audience into two groups. ‘Standards’ play games to help tell the story, while ‘Elites’ get special treatment – given comfier chairs, free cake, and the power to change the course the story takes. Standards who compete in games then get to become Elites themselves.
It’s an irreverent, anarchic take on the subject, which plays fast and loose with the rules of theatre, but always focuses on our audience just having a great time. All audience participation is voluntary, and you’ll never be asked to do anything you don’t want to do. You can start your own class war, smuggle illicit goods across borders, shout ‘Objection!’ in court, or just sit unharassed and watch the story unfold.
We’ve been touring the country with it, and have been fortunate enough to win the awards for ‘Best New Writing’ at the Greater Manchester Fringe, and ‘Best Newcomer’ at the Brighton Fringe. It’s been absolutely amazing to get such a positive response from a wide range of audiences, and we hope that we’ve created something that’s a good laugh and a great night out, while also delivering an important message about the myths of social mobility and realities of class discrimination.
TF: And what drove the project, where did your influences lie?
Class has been a recurring theme in our work, but for a long time we’ve wanted to make something that takes these issues head on. We’ve also long had a problem with tiered seating and ticketing, where different members of the same audience can pay more money to have a better experience. We wanted to take this concept and push it to an extreme, while also turning it on its head and seeing how we could make audiences explore these social dynamics while being complicit in creating them.
We also thought that all sounded a bit heavy, so we put in bits where you could throw stuff at each other, and a talking duck.
TF: Have you been to the Fringe before, is there anything you are keen to see whilst in Edinburgh?
This is our first time bringing work to the Fringe, but half of the company have also never visited the Fringe at all! We hope to see as much as we can, but there’s a few shows we’re particularly looking forward to. First a shout-out to our fellow shows supported by the Oxford Playhouse – Kuumba Nia Arts’ Sold and Doug Crossley’s Give Me One Moment In Time (both showing at the Pleasance).
On the same subject matter we’re exploring, we’re really intrigued to see Scottee’s Class at Roxy Assembly.
Comedy-wise there’s the inimitable Joz Norris with his new show Joz Norris Is Dead. Long Live Mr Fruit Salad. (showing at Heroes @ The Hive)
And we also can’t wait to see John Robertson’s ‘live-action video game’ The Dark Room at the Gilded Balloon.
TF: And what are your future plans beyond Standard:Elite?
As well as seeing where else Standard:Elite can take us, we’ve also been working on our new show Drawing the Line – another interactive show which gets its audience to compete with each other for resources to create two entirely new nations from scratch.
This show was the flagship commission for The Albany’s ‘Rebels’ season, where we created entirely new worlds with audiences in Deptford. Our new citizens got to wave flags, build cities, sing their national anthem, and even defend their nation on the battlefield as we interrogated the ideas of nationhood and citizenship, and asked how far they were willing to go to defend their borders, and protect what they’d created.
We’ll be looking to tour Drawing the Line around the UK in 2020, so keep an eye out for us near you in the future!
You can see Standard: Elite at the Bedlam Theatre until 25th August at 16:55. For tickets, go to https://tickets.edfringe.com/