0 comments on “Rising Ape + Cancer Research UK + BIT = Something special soon…”

Rising Ape + Cancer Research UK + BIT = Something special soon…

cancer research uk rising ape event bristol

This summer Cancer Research UK Cardiff approached Rising Ape Collective¬†and asked if we’d like to develop¬†an immersive event¬†based around¬†clinical trials and patient involvement. After successful initial discussions, planning and research, we are very pleased to now start shouting about it!

In January, Rising Ape and the Bristol Improv Theatre will host an evening that gets you, our audience, right in the shoes of the people making clinical trials and cancer research happen. Like all our events it will be audience-centred and engaging as hell. But this particular subject means we get the chance to try something even more human, moving and relatable.

It can¬†be easy to take for granted¬†the¬†impact cancer research has had on our world, especially if you’re lucky enough to lack personal experience of this impact. In the seventies, 1 in 4 people diagnosed with cancer died. Over the last 40 years, thanks to the work done by the people of organisations like Cancer Research UK, survival rates have doubled.¬†This astonishing progress¬†would not be possible without the thousands of real people,¬†patients included, from all¬†backgrounds who come¬†together to make it happen through projects¬†like clinical trials. These people continue to work together every day and it’s their contributions we want you to experience.

cancer research uk rising ape event bristol

For all it’s success, cancer research is an area that can seem every bit as complex, confusing and, let’s face it, as scary, to most of us as the diseases¬†it’s working to understand and combat. How are new drugs discovered? Who decides what treatments patients get? How do we know what works? It may¬†not sound like the obvious choice for the next Rising Ape Presents

But we’re excited.

We’re excited because we get to highlight the human stories behind clinical trials: the place where¬†scientists, nurses, doctors, and (most of all)¬†patients¬†work together¬†to beat cancer sooner.

We’re excited to bring together a whole medley of people, patients, performers, researchers, game makers and others, to forge new conversations and understandings in an effort to create something unique.

We’re excited to collaborate¬†with both the Bristol Improv Theatre¬†and Cancer Research UK to make this possible. The first is an old friend we are loving working more closely with, and the second is a renowned organisation of committed and passionate people that¬†have given us the opportunity¬†to push ourselves¬†in new ways.

And we’re beyond excited for you to be a part of it, whether in Bristol or, who knows, even beyond?

So look out for production updates/creative tantrums/over-excitement here on the site and @RisingApeTweets, @CRUKCardiff and www.improvtheatre.net and keep the end of January as free as Willy when he soars over that Canadian sea wall, thrashing his big tail. Rising Ape, BIT and Cancer Research UK will be waiting for you.

0 comments on “What went down in Life on Mars: The Gameshow at Einstein’s Garden, Green Man Festival 2015”

What went down in Life on Mars: The Gameshow at Einstein’s Garden, Green Man Festival 2015

Einstein's banner - Green Man


We made it back. Thanks to the Rising Ape Space Agency  we have returned from Mars and finished our thorough debrief with the professional medical staff here at RASA Mission Control in Bristol. But the memories of our time with you Martian colonists will stay with us, at least until the same time next year.

In total eight teams signed up to compete in the first ever gameshow held on Mars, including Superstars, Team Uranus, Space Oddity, and Team Placenta. The prize? A luxury hamper containing precious bonus rations of ice-cream (freeze dried), a foil blanket for the cold Martian night, and an extra regulation RASA crew t-shirt. The be-tophatted host, James Riley, introduced his two android helpers, A-TON and E-STEL, and the serenest super computer this side of Orion, DAVIDBOT 3000, and then the games were afoot.

Host James

Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, Ash, our engineer, and a veteran of a simulated Mars mission who helped us devise the rounds was unable to attend the festival at the last moment. Understandably, these sorts of things can happen in space missions, and it gave us an opportunity to practice an important skill for all astronauts to have: improvisation.

Into the breach stepped Zoe of the National Space Centre, who with minimal (read: no) rehearsal delivered three motivating speeches throughout the show on the importance of Teamwork, Communication and Psychological Understanding to a successful space mission. You colonists made our guest very welcome and there were loud cheers for her inspiring words.

Aton and James

Round 1 was all about¬†Teamwork. It saw two teams race against the clock to navigate a giant exposed wire that formed part of the hab’s airlock system. A steady hand and excellent coordination between team members was required to succeed. Amazingly, both teams completed the challenge in the time allowed, but due to touching less exposed wires, Team Uranus made it through to the final.

Charades Round

In the second round, Communication, two teams engaged in a Charades-off based around various space-related titles in pop culture. Incredibly this proved even¬†more difficult than on a Christmas evening after too many sherries when your nan has to act out¬†Shawshank Redemption. Perhaps the pressure of the crowd, or the weight of the potential prize was weighing on the colonist’s minds, but in the end Space Oddity qualified despite only getting two film titles correct! Special mention must be made for their rivals, Team Placenta, who managed to describe Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus for their only correct answer. using only frantic pointing. The colony administration salutes your dedication!


For the third qualification round, the teams had to guess the most popular answers to the Colony-wide survey that was distributed shortly before the weekend. The Colony Administration would like to thank all who volunteered their personal psychological data, and to let those who¬†selected ‘Lighthouse Family – Lost in Space’ know that they are being closely monitored.

In an extremely tense round, the young whippersnappers of Superstars came from behind to steal the win from Team Uranus,¬†after¬†correctly deciding that most Colonists would want to call their parents for their annual phonecall (aww, you softies). Full results of the survey will be available soon¬†for those who really want to know what the Colony’s favourite ice-cream (freeze dried) flavour is. Hint: it’s not ‘Chorizo’.

Alex on Mars

And so the final round was upon us. At this point the downpour was really trying to make sure everyone believed there was liquid H20 on Mars which will have come as welcome news to those early 21st Century rovers that we saw gathering dust out on the plains. The three qualified teams remained resolute and threw themselves into the final challenge. Tasked with carrying multiple radioactive pellets all the way around¬†Einstein’s Garden, using only a custom made hand-held safety transporter, which only looked a bit like a big spoon covered in foil and hazard tape, before throwing them into the Colony furnace from a safe distance to save the habitat’s rapidly shutting down life-support system…. Well, let’s just say they nailed it.

In the end, Team Uranus¬†emerged victorious, out throwing the others by some margin, and claiming the extra rations as their prize. Like true Colony comrades they immediately shared the spoils with the remaining teams, in a scene which nearly, nearly brought a virtual tear to DAVIDBOT 3000’s stoic pixels.¬†As if in awe of what it had just witnessed, at this point the rain finally stopped.

RASA off stage

We’d like to thank Maddy for letting¬†us on the Solar Stage for this escapade, Jen and the crew of Einstein’s Garden for solving our problems and making us feel so welcome, Ash and Zoe for their contributions to the show and, most of all, the eight teams of brave colonists who stuck it out through the deluge and competed with such admirable gusto. The future of Martian colonies looks safe in your hands.

And so, as the lights of¬†the vast domed Green Man festival habitat went down, we tidied away the set and DAVIDBOT 3000,¬†before¬†celebrating the success of the first ever gameshow on Mars by dancing around to some very fine musical acts. Circulating rumours of the white suited RASA team being repeatedly mistaken for the band Super Furry Animals and engaging in 5am sing-alongs with Charlotte Church can be neither confirmed, nor denied….


0 comments on “Eruption! ft. Nicky Young… The Movie!”

Eruption! ft. Nicky Young… The Movie!

Rising Ape Eruption

It’s fair to say that ‘Rising Ape Presents… Eruption!’ was a blast. You became vulcanologists for the evening, vulcanologists who knew a surprising amount about the career of Pierce Brosnan.¬†Using your in-depth knowledge of lava flows, increasing pH levels and the correct pronunciation of Ejyafjallajokull you came to the aid of the perilously located town of Rising Apeton. You were then regaled by researcher Nicky Young and her tales of studying¬†Hawaiian volcanoes and dodging Aberdeenian seagulls. Thank you once again for making it a fantastic evening (and some of the most tortuous quiz team names ever imagined)!

There was just one problem. The next day, when your work colleagues asked what you did the night before, they probably didn’t believe you, it all sounded so incredible. That’s where we can help.

Please enjoy the video evidence of your heroics in our highlights reel below, and show those doubting friends of yours what they missed out on. We hope you like it.

Finally, a massive cheers to the highly professional crew of Raw Frames for making the film. We can heartily recommend them to anyone looking for a video of their event.

0 comments on “Rising Ape announced at Green Man Festival”

Rising Ape announced at Green Man Festival

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, other Unidentified Life Forms of every gender dimension. The Rising Ape Space Agency is gearing up for its second trip to the Red Planet, this time with our friends at the legendary Einstein’s Garden of Green Man Festival, 20-23 August!

It‚Äôs your first day on Martian Colony #1, and definitely not a field in the gorgeous Brecon Beacons. As you wipe the hyper-sleep from your eyes, you stare around the landing module and see your teammates. You remember the last thing that the Rising Ape Space Agency Mission Control said before you left: ‚ÄúThere‚Äôs going to be some strange people waiting for you when you land. We sent them up first but they may have gone rogue. They‚Äôre probably going to try and make you do a ridiculous Mars-themed competition. Just go with it. Humour their dust-addled minds.” You blink and take your first steps on the Red Planet. ‘First to wake up! 10 points!’ a voice shouts from nearby. Your life on Mars has begun…

Life on Mars event

So come down to the Festival Habitat Module, or ‘Solar Stage’, on Saturday 21st August with the rest of your plucky team. You‚Äôll need to prove yourselves up to the task of settling Mars on a gameshow for the whole crowd that’s so out of this world, it’s made it to the next!

Fresh off the rocket is our newest recruit and resident Mars expert, Ashley Dove-Jay, a space engineer (best job title ever!). Ash‚Äôs work is wide-ranging. In the last year he has developed radiation mitigation strategies for astronauts in deep-space with Inspiration Mars; advised senior NASA figures on strategies for protecting civilisation from the effects of a solar super-storm; written several papers for his Ph.D. regarding the development of future ‚Äėgreen‚Äô aircraft morphing wing technologies; and has conducted a solo-hiking expedition through the high-arctic archipelago of Svalbard, conducting biological research on floral pollinators. Phew, we hope he has some energy left by August.

He has also commanded a two-week long simulated Mars mission in Utah.  This experience should stand him in good stead for what lies in store after joining our new Life on Mars!

More details to follow…

Einstein’s Garden is an essential, cherished part of Green Man Festival, where you can explore the far flung reaches of your imagination with over 100 jaw-dropping performances, from live comedy, music and theatre to walks, talks and interactive installations ‚Äď all set across three sustainably powered stages.

Nestled among the leafy arbors and fragrant rosebeds at the heart of the beautiful Green Man site, Einstein’s Garden is the perfect place to cultivate your curiosity and indulge your creative passions. You won’t find anything quite like it at any other UK festival!

Read more¬†about the Einstein’s Garden lineup.¬†Buy tickets for Green Man Festival.

Follow them @EinsteinsGarden and @GreenManFest

0 comments on “We were christened by Terry Pratchett… (sort of)”

We were christened by Terry Pratchett… (sort of)

terry Pratchett is dead rising ape

By Antony Poveda

“Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.”– Terry Pratchett

It was a torrential summer’s day in Bristol last year. James and I were taking three hours, two coffees, three pubs and five pints to trawl our minds/phones for the name of the place where you’re reading this now.

It was tough. We felt we had a strong idea and a clear aim: to make supposedly lofty, out of reach thinking and research a topic for every day conversation. But we didn’t have a name. And the name was important; it had to sum up our goals for this venture, to be¬†catchy, humble, aspirational. Many potentials were brought up from the depths of our misremembering minds and the literary internet: ‘Cortex Vortex’, ‘Mind Smash’, ‘TEDISDEAD’, but nothing was sticking, nothing fitted properly.

Then, around about the fourth pint, the marvellous Terry Pratchett spoke to us. Sadly, not in person, but rather in the form of a wikiquotes page, somewhere just beyond Nietszche, and we listened.

*reads above quote* ‘…so why not just ‘Rising Ape?’

‘Hmmm. That could work.’

‘Rising Ape’ wasn’t immediately hailed as our saviour, and a few more dodgy titles were to be offered up for debate before the final decison was made. Even the unlikely ‘Cortex Vortex’ had a late surge of support (James still calls us this in his head). But we kept coming back to it: ‘Rising Ape’. Terry had spoken, and we had listened.

What a Baller.

My personal connection to Terry goes back much further than the screen of my old smartphone. For me, and many others, he and his writing were there at the turning of my adolescence when I needed them most. The stories of Discworld, and other worlds, helped immeasurably with being a slightly bullied kid finding their way out of the comfort of my little primary and into the bizarre realities of high school. There too, there were collections of strange races, countless arcane rituals and baffling social bureaucracies to navigate.

Crucially, his stories were not¬†solely escapes (from what was, objectively, not that rough of a time), but much more like incredibly inventive lessons in what was possible in this life. You could be kind, funny, and courageous through struggles and hardships, not because you were a special snowflake and everyone else was stupid and horrid, but because that was what being human should be about. Terry spoke to me, and I couldn’t stop listening.

Terry also said:

‚ÄúFantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can. Of course, I could be wrong.‚ÄĚ

The last part there deftly illustrates how he could never avoid¬†mixing his¬†questioning-thinking with his¬†story-thinking. Indeed, he actively pursued this aim. His writing dazzles you¬†with curiosity, character, wit, tension, humanity, wisdom, beauty, tragedy, everything everythingeverything… and puns! In our small way, that generous spirit is something we have tried to take to¬†heart at Rising Ape, and we believe that stories and imagination can be a powerful way to deal with communicating in ¬†“a language originally designed to tell other monkeys where the ripe fruit is.” Yes, Tezza again. Cheers!

Please forgive the over-quoting. It seems that for every concept there is a Pratchettism. As for that first quote at the top, well there is, of course, nothing new under the big ball of plasma in the sky. Variations on the ‘rising ape/falling angel’ theme go back¬†at least as far back as Robert Ardrey and it is certainly something that Terry must have picked up from elsewhere. I like Terry’s version best, though. As he has it, being a rising ape is knowing¬†the importance of story, of reflection, and of hope. It’s the knowing of what we are and still wanting more.

I’ll leave you with the fuller extract around the quote that inspired us. It is, aptly, the middle of a conversation with Death. Please read it, it’s so good it gives me chills. And then go and read everything he ever wrote, even if you already have. The joy of writing, and of books, is that they remain. Once inked and read, their ideas cannot really be taken away. I am so grateful that others will always be able to learn from and enjoy what Terry Pratchett created in this world. Wherever he is now, I’m certain that Terry is still speaking, and we’ll always be¬†listening.

‚ÄúAll right,” said Susan. “I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need… fantasies to make life bearable.”


“Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little‚ÄĒ”


“So we can believe the big ones?”


“They’re not the same at all!”


“Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point‚ÄĒ”


‚Äē Terry Pratchett, Hogfather

0 comments on “Esperanto and the Man with the Paintbrush Moustache”

Esperanto and the Man with the Paintbrush Moustache

Saluton mondo! Esperanto signifas ‘tiu kiu esperas’ en Esperanto. ńąi semajno Antony kaj James malkovri, kial parolantoj de la plej bone konataj planlingvo havas kialon por atendi denove. Krome, ni trovos tute nova kialo por malami diktatoroj. Phew.

ńąi podkastojn ankaŇ≠ enhavas ńČevaloj, raketoj, kaj parlamento de gufoj! Ne ke vi bezonis scii tion sed ni volis vidi kion ńČiuj tiuj vortoj aspektis kiel en Esperanto.

N.B. For those not keen on learning a made-up language just to read this podcast description (lazy people), then Google Translate is available here. Hint: It’s about Esperanto.



1 comment on “Evolutionary Plasticity and the Rise of Bipedal Mice”

Evolutionary Plasticity and the Rise of Bipedal Mice

In this episode of Rising Ape Speaks we discuss how draining almost all the water out of fish’s pool has illustrated that evolution is by no means a closed book.

This leads on to James confessing his childhood spent dreaming up unethical experiments, and how the possible explanation for Antony‘s gymless body may lie with his cheese-eating father. Later on, creationists get it in the ear. Yes, evolution may be nature’s way, but Rising Ape Speaks will always stick to its timeless winning formula!¬†

Paywall free article about landlubbing Birchir fish here.