Interview: Joe Ball, the Director of Revolution and Artistic Director of Exit Productions @VaultFestival @exitprodu @Kraydius

Last night I was lucky enough to go to The Vaults Festival to see Revolution – an immersive/interactive gaming experience. A review of this will follow but
I was lucky enough to speak Joe Ball, the Director of Revolution and also Artistic Director of Exit Productions.
But first – here is an overview of the show:
In a more and more connected world politics still manages to be something that truly divides us. Revolution gives an audience of complete strangers a fun and engaging way to interact around politics in an action-packed game environment. Audiences will find the game aspect of the performance familiar as there are echoes from classic board games but at the same time Revolution is new enough to keep everyone on a
level playing field. We use this game format to engage the audience in the tactics of the Revolution. 2By splitting the audience into three distinct factions we pit audience members (often friends) against each other to try and take over our digital map of London. This leads to alliances, coalitions, backstabbing, spying and worse, just like regular politicking. At the same time as placing strategic orders, the factions must come up with policies that they wish to see in the new world before they present them to the room and try and defend them. Adding to the gameplay but also engaging an audience in politics. Testing their ideals and the way that they present them in the forge of public opinion.
And now for the questions.

An interview with Joe and Playhouse Pickings.
1.What made you decide to start doing immersive/interactive experiences? What were you doing before this?
We have been working with companies like Coney and Colab doing bits of immersive theatre. So have a good grounding on the different styles. But I think for us it’s about creating an event that brings people together. With the easy access to entertainment via the internet, the live event’s unique quality is that it is live and experience with other people.
2.How did you go about developing an immersive gaming experience?
 
This is the second time we have brought this show out so this version is about making things bigger and better. At the start, we worked with games designer Kai Oliver to code the game from scratch in Unity. This became the foundation for us to explore with ways of getting an audience to become the show.
3.What should the audience expect from the experience?
The experience is there for you to explore the politicking rather than the politics that are deciding so many people at the moment. Through a game, much like Risk or Diplomacy, you work with your political faction to try and win the Revolution!
4.What are you hoping people will take away from the production? Is there an overall moral you aim to get across?
 
With a lot of Exit’s work we want people to enjoy the experience as much as possible and through that leave still thinking about the bits that mean something to them. Hopefully, people should be leaving thinking about the things that they want to change about society but also a better feeling for the politicking.
5.Who is this show for? Gamers? Theatre loves? People interested in politics? None of the above?
 
All of the above! We have made one element of the experience that should get the gamers scheming and the other leaving the political leaning satisfied. Both blended together to keep the theatre lovers happy.
6. I love getting fully involved in an immersive show but some people get a bit frightened of such an experiences; how much are people expected to get involved and will they experience everything, whatever happens?
To get involved to the degree that you want to. We have aimed to make something that appeals to the players that want to be the lead politician and the ones that want to work behind the scenes – spying, playing at diplomacy and puppeteering the action.
7.What if people get stuck on part of the game?
 
We have a learn to play section of the show that gives the full break down of how you interact with the game at the same time as contextualising the world they are playing in. There are also characters/ facilitators on hand to keep everyone up to speed and involved.
8.What’s next for Exit Productions Ltd?
 
We have a show coming up at the Imperial War Museum as part of their Age of Terror season. We will be exploring through games and scenarios the possible impact of hacking and cyber terrorism in a modern age. With help from experts at Kings College London you the audience will play against other members of the public to hack your way to victory, but at what cost…
The review will follow soon but as a quick summary – it was a fun 90 minutes, making you think about your politics, pits you against the friends with whom you came and is a fascinating social experiment. Every time you go will be different, the audience are the protognasists and are the ones driving the show,
Anyone who loves immersive theatre, politics, boardgames, and something a bit different, will enjoy this. Get your tickets now.
VAULT Festival
January 24th – March 18th
Wednesday – Sunday: 18.30 & 20.30
Saturday & Sunday extra performances at 15.00 (possible)Created by Exit Productions Ltd
Directed by Joe Ball
Game by Kai Oliver
Performed by Peter Dewhurst, Lauren Gibson, Chris Neels, Clemency Thorburn
Visuals by Brendan O’Rourke
Sound by Ben Hudson
Produced by Nadezhda Zhelyazkova for Full Sail Productions

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