New Perspectives to use WhatsApp for new play

Published: 21 October 2020
Reporter: Steve Orme

"Fascinated with the possibilities of WhatsApp”: New Perspectives’ artistic director Jack McNamara Credit: Emanuele Costantini

Nottinghamshire theatre company New Perspectives has come up with a new play for Halloween, Stay Safe, its latest “innovative” drama which uses WhatsApp as a dramatic form.

It follows the company’s presentation via Zoom of Lars von Trier's office comedy The Boss of It All with Josie Lawrence, a 10-part podcast series PlacePrints by David Rudkin and Love From Cleethorpes, a drama told through a series of six postcards which has “toured” to 25 countries worldwide and will return for Christmas.

Stay Safe is part of Signal Fires, a nationwide project inspired by one of the original forms of theatre: storytelling around a fire.

On a parents’ WhatsApp group, an innocent question about a class teacher leads to unsettling revelations. Audiences are invited to look on as the group conversation unravels in real time.

New Perspectives’ artistic director Jack McNamara who has written Stay Safe said, “having successfully delivered Love From Cleethorpes—our first play via postcard—I became fascinated with the possibilities of WhatsApp as a dramatic medium.

“Like a postcard, it’s both private and public, a strange forum in which people project a version of themselves in an apparently safer space than the open sea of social media. To experience a WhatsApp group in action is to experience a very active drama unfold in front of you. As soon as Signal Fires approached us about joining their nationwide festival, I knew that WhatsApp would be our fire."

Stay Safe will run for an hour and is suitable for anyone aged 16 and over. It will be performed from Thursday 29 until Saturday 31 October at 8, 9 and 10PM and at midnight on Halloween.

On the day of the performances, audiences will be invited to join a WhatsApp group. Messages will start at the performance time booked. Audiences will be advised on how to hide their number from the WhatsApp group, and the group and all numbers will be deleted 24 hours later.

Further information is available at the New Perspectives web site.