Interview: Jack McNamara on Stay Safe, a WhatsApp driven play.

Anything that we become so is contingent upon also is setting up new vulnerabilities.

photo credit@ Emanuele Costantini

We are always mesmerized to see how theatre producers push the areas of what a testify is likely to be, so where reference is considered the assertion for Stay Safe, we really wanted to know more. It may be, to the best of our lore, the first play told over WhatsApp. The public be a part of a “parents” group chat for the evening, where an innocent question about a class schoolteacher leads to unsettling disclosures. At exactly one pound to take part, it seems an absolute bargin as well. With such a distinct thought, we just couldn’t resist approaching the show’s writer, Jack McNamara, to find out more.

Stay Safe is being “performed” over WhatsApp, can you explain how that is going to work in reality? Will we sit right watching our telephones, waiting for the next ping to signify new word for an hour?

The audience representatives connect a WhatsApp group and will watch as working group chat reveals in real go on their telephone. They become witness to an exchange that begins with all the usual tropes of Whatsapp( emojis, typos LOLs) but develops into something far more unsettling. The show previous around 20 -3 0 mins max, so your neck shouldn’t hurt too much by the end of it.

And does this mean there are no “actors” involved in the traditional gumption?

Yes there are characters that speak together, share records etc, but these are not spoken/ triggered by actors but by a very clever inexplicable male called Joe who controls the whole knowledge remotely.

The storyline revolves around an “unsettling revelation” about a school teacher, without affording too much apart, is there going to be a Halloween feel to things?

Yes, it begins with a seemingly innocent question about someone who was recognized in the school and then increases into something more sinister, with tension preparing amongst the chatting parents. And while there will be a few of the recognisable cruelty motifs in there( strange homes, anonymous videos) the real horror that is revealed is something a bit closer to home for all us phone addicts.

What attracted you to using WhatsApp as opposed to any of the other message sharing programmes available?

I am mesmerized by how these various stages encourage and enable different ways of talking and self-presenting. What is disturbing about Whatsapp is that it tends to combine both the personal touch of email/ verse with the more outward testimony making of social media. This felt like an interesting tension to explore in exchange shape as it is so different to how we communicate be faced. It’s this private public that mesmerizes me, and something I explored earlier in our postcard assignment Love From Cleethorpes.Use of Whatsapp has apparently soared since lockdown, and the fact that we find ourselves more and more used to relying on these programmes realise it ripe for journey. Anything that we become so is contingent upon also is setting up new vulnerabilities, and so I belief it was only natural that my first foray into this medium attained itself on the repugnance spectrum. People have said that Whatsapp is already becoming a platform of the past with newer slicker mechanisms superseding it. That’s good with me, as it means we can work with Whatsapp here in a way that feels nearly over familiar. With brand-new platforms that are now in I think they need to be given time to really embed themselves in different cultures before we start opening them up. I like the idea that our give of Whatsapp is already a little retro!

Will the gathering be getting involved, will they be replying in any way to letters?

No they will be commentators. There is huge potential with this form of course to incorporate the audience. But this didn’t happen to be the narration for that.

Has Covid-1 9 and lockdown been the reason you’ve tried these alternative formats to turn in a depict, or has this been something you’ve scheduled before this year?

We’ve always been interested in other forms. We had an epic podcast streaks PlacePrints meant long before Covid-1 9 came along, but once we released it looked like a response to the pandemic. But this situation, for all the toll it’s taken on us all, must surely summoned countless creative villains. Our postcard project was a direct result of me thinking about rural publics being cut off from live theatre at this time and what we could do to reach them away from screens. And this project came about from me looking at Whatsapp exchanges over this time and ability a brand-new loneliness and importance in the need to commune and connect.

Are you concerned that the drama and tension that would normally be present in a theatre seat is going to be lost with the public all sitting alone at home?

We are working with a completely different type of tension. It is in no way trying to replicate a live theater tension. It works with the solitude of the public representative, the miniature pattern of the exchange, the strange force of obtain information through your telephone. With any theatrical medium, you have to work smartly with the elements available to you, and try and turn them to your advantage.

So you’ve done mailing-cards and WhatsApp; any other such distinct themes you’re currently working on?

Yes, heaps. As mentioned, this time has expanded our scopes vastly. First off the at-bat is an alternative Christmas project that will be announced very soon. But every scaffold is ripe for exploring at the moment. In addition to slick digital stuff I find myself increasingly drawn to the clunkier more analogue sorts. I’m hankering for a more tactile occasion, and to work with methods of communication that are almost extinct. Perhaps we should do a telegram continue next but ship as an actual telegram.


Our thanks to Jack for his time to tell us about Stay Safe. The play-act is part of the Signal Fires, a national campaign motivated by one of the original forms of theatre- storytelling around a fire.

Stay Safe is performing from Thursday 29 October- Saturday 31 October, with start times of 8p m, 9pm, 10 pm plus midnight on Saturday. Tickets are just one pound.

More info and booking

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