Julian Bruton is directing the debut of new writing play Zombiegate, running at Theatre503 this November.
Tell us about Zombiegate
Zombiegate tells the story of two friends who take a selfie and when it’s uploaded online, it goes viral overnight resulting in the two friends being cancelled, trolled, and abused online. Ultimately the play looks at how that online activity changes peoples lives for better or for worse.
How did you come to be involved in the project?
I became involved in the project when Matthew (the writer of Zombiegate) was picked as one of the winners for the Pitch Your Play competition with the Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust. The winning writers were given the opportunity to have their plays performed as staged readings at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, and at that point Matthew needed a director to stage the reading. I responded to the call-out, Matthew then invited me to meet him, and he picked me to direct the staged reading. After the reading, Matthew and I were happy to continue the journey together in bringing this play to life in a full production, and that is when our producer Ameena Hamid came on board.
What appealed to you about the play?
I found the play very appealing because of how contemporary the play is, both in form and content. It’s incredibly relatable because of the relevance of the subject matter – one way or another, we all have some relationship and/or experience with social media and online interactions, as well as what we see on the internet. Everyone who I’ve talked about this play with could relate quickly with clear recognition with what the story is about. The characters are very relatable, human, and brilliantly complex. The play also appealed to my taste in having scenes of realism juxtaposed with unapologetic bold theatricality. Best of both! What more could you want!
How are rehearsals going?
Rehearsals are going well, and like many other rehearsals they have been fun and challenging. It’s been very exciting as to how the scenes still tap into the here and now of what’s going in society at the moment, particularly online, and how much we all recognise and relate to what’s going on in the play. We’ve been incredibly blessed with the cast we have, who truly are on the top of their a-game as actors.
What should audiences expect from the production?
I think audiences can expect it to be an absolute ride! It’s a roller-coaster with what the characters go through in the story. Audiences can also expect big theatricality. Staging online activity is a very curious and particular challenge for any theatremaker, and the play does that in very bold way.
What is next for you?
I am continuing to develop and stage new plays as a director, as well as reviving more recent plays and musicals. Watch this space!
Zombiegate plays Theatre503 in London 1-19 November 2022 theatre503.com/whats-on/zombiegate-2