Theatre Temoin’s latest show, Feed, showing at the Pleasance this Edinburgh Fringe, is a show about social media, clickbait culture, and gluttonous impulses. We caught up with director Ailin Conant ahead of the group heading to Edinburgh to find out how the show is going.
How is your preparation for the Fringe going?
We’ve just previewed at The Lowry and are excited to see it up in Edinburgh! We will have another week of final rehearsal in Cheltenham before Edinburgh.
When did you first start work on Feed, and how has the changing political climate affected the show?
When we began working on Feed, it was in the wake of Brexit and Trump and we thought we were going to be doing a piece on echo chambers, fake news, and social division. The more we researched, however, the more we realised that Feed was actually about capitalism. It’s a play about the attention economy and how our focus as consumers—our engagement, our emotional arousal, and the time we spend with our eyeballs drinking in content—is the greatest commodity on the current market. This means that anything that provokes emotion—humour, scandal, outrage, sensationalism—rises to the top while nuance and deep thinking are pushed out the picture. Fake news and social divisions are a part of that, but they are a tangential by-product of a much darker and more insidious thing and really only the tip of the iceberg. It feels like people are cottoning on to this; there has been a lot in the media recently about algorithm-generated content and the weird worlds of things like baby YouTube, so it feels like creating Feed has been a bit of a sprint to keep ahead of the curve in terms of the information that is current. Which is a great thing, I think, it’s a testament to how quickly we are all waking up to this stuff.
How are you finding the challenge of presenting media, particularly online media, on stage?
For us it hasn’t been any more challenging than any other play. If anything, staging online media frees us up to be visual and physical because ‘the internet’ is a non-space, so anything staged ‘online’ doesn’t have to follow the conventional rules of physical relationships in real space. We also used the architecture of a screen to inform the design, right down to literal sidebar ads that interrupt the content of the play. We’ve have loads of fun with it. This show has been very different from our last two shows – The Marked and The Fantasist. Feed has less masks and puppets, and darker absurdist comedy, but by exploring the theme of the internet we have been able to keep it in our visual/physical style.
What are you most looking forward to at the Fringe this year?
The shows! We’re particularly interested in seeing how other companies are tackling this question of the attention economy and its effect on society. I think it’s going to be a big topic this year.
Any top tips for festival goers?
Take the time to go through the brochure and decide what you want to see. I usually sit down with the Edfest (Big 4 Venues) and Summerhall brochures and go through item by item at the top of the festival. Otherwise it gets to the end of your trip and you realise there was something amazing that’s now sold out and you missed your chance!
Anything else you’d like us to know?
A disclaimer: Feed has been created according to the rules of the attention economy: it is designed to keep you entertained without any adherence to morals, ethics, or other forms of content moderation or monitoring.
Feed is on at the Pleasance Dome (King Dome) from Friday 3rd – Monday 27th August 2018 (not 15th) at 14:00. Tickets start at £11.00 for concessions, £12.00 full price, and are available here.