We’re teaming up with award-winning game developer Alistair Aitcheson to bring you Play This Show, a night of playable and improvised comedy featuring two shows like nothing else on stage- well, like nothing else on a Thursday night in April anyway.
Publish or Perish is the choose-your-own-adventure show where the whole audience gets to play together.
Alongside your friends, you’ll take control of a young scientist trying to make it through the strangest day of their life, guided by the all-knowing game master.
Mashing up daft songs, live action role play, deadly punning photocopiers, a lab full of improvisers and an unhealthy dose of audience suggestions, surviving the sci-fantasy world of Publish or Perish ultimately depends on your choices – democracy taken to the next level!
After a fantastic couple of shows at Green Man Festival 2017, we’re really excited to be bringing this show to a hometown audience at the brilliant Bristol Improv Theatre. And if you caught it last year, there’ll be new cast members, new games and even more pop culture surprises to challenge your spur of the moment decision making skills.
The Incredible Playable Show
Created by game developer Alistair Aitcheson, The Incredible Playable Show is an interactive video game comedy show where you, the audience, take to the stage!
Become human buttons, take on the Power Rangers, zap each other with barcode scanners, and play Pac-Man using inflatable toys. Or sit back, and watch your friends literally become cogs in a hilarious machine!
Plasticine defeats lava. But only if it’s placed correctly. Just one of the lessons the intrepid volcanologists for the evening took home after enjoying Rising Ape Presents… Eruption for this year’s Earth Science Week.
On Monday 9th October eight teams entered the the Mt Risuvius Volcano Observatory (read: Bristol Improv Theatre) with the goal of securing a lucrative imaginary contract to take it over. Their task? To defend the nearby town from a fiery doom, through the tried-and-tested disciplines of disaster planning and pub quiz.
First, the teams picked a suitably volcanic name, with bonus/pity points going to Igneous Ramuses and Magma Mates. Then the quiz began in earnest. Points were awarded for knowing the Hawaiian word for poo (uli), where volcanos keep their trophies (the mantle piece) and avoiding periodic lava flows into the observatory by scrambling off the floor.
After the interval, a news report announced that Mt Risivius was near to erupting. The teams then had to plan how they would spend the town’s budget on defending the population and infrastructure. Would they invest in early warning systems? Or blow it all on concrete (read: plasticine) barriers to divert the destruction?
And then it happened, ERUPTION! The teams quickly constructed their defenses on a highly accurate model of Mt Risuvius. As the washing up bubbles (read: terrifying lava) flowed to much excitement, the teams’ defenses were put to the test and buildings were spared or sacrificed. But who had made the best use of their scant resources? Who out of these eight teams of bold Monday night adventurers had done the most to save the town?
As the damage was assessed and the scores tallied, it was clear there was only one winning team: Ring of Fire! Unbelievably, in an unfair world and a negatively rigged game, they’d achieved a positive score!
The night ended with an absorbing talk from local researcher, Ailsa Naismith of the University of Bristol. Ailsa shared stories of her travels to volcanic regions in South America and the amazing people she’d met who had made volcanoes their home. It was fascinating to hear how these people felt ownership, and even friendliness, towards their unpredictable neighbours.
We’d like to thank everyone who came to Eruption and made it such fun. Your competitiveness, creativity and commitment to the world of Mt Risuvius was truly inspiring. We hope to see you all at the next event.
Rising Ape Presents… Eruption was made possible by funding from the Geological Society as part of Earth Science Week 2017.
We’ve spent the cold winter months planning and preparing (also sleeping). Now it’s time to see what the Ape is cooking in the next few months.
The Audience – 26th May, Bristol Improv Theatre
Our fantastic friends at the Bristol Improv Theatre (BIT) have supported Rising Ape since our very first event, Life on Mars in 2015. Since then, they’ve gone through huge change, buying a building and completely refurbishing it to become the UK’s first dedicated Improv Theatre!
We were honoured to be asked to be part of their first spring season and bring The Audience to the BIT this May as part of a double bill with Alastair Aitcheson ’s Incredible Playable Show. It’s certain to be a night that fans of audience participation and Black Mirror-esque dystopian sci-fi won’t want to miss.
The Incredible Playable Show + Rising Ape, £7, 26th May, Bristol Improv Theatre
After the success of The Audience at last year’s Einstein’s Garden, we’re now deep into writing our new show for this year’s festival. Publish or Perish, basically the Sims with scientists, will give people the chance to control the choices of a young researcher trying to make it through the day from hell.
Blending live action role play, improv, video games and biting insight into the real world of academic research (we knew those PhD’s half the apes were embarking on would come in handy), PoP is a must see for anyone who loves any of those things we just listed. Stay tuned for updates as the process of creating this show becomes ever more fraught and stressful, until the festival itself, 17-20 August.
This July, we’re also excited to be working with UWE to put on a night of activities for researchers attending their science communication summer school. Based around the concept Worst. Science. Festival. Ever, it’s going to be an evening of fiendish quizzing, ridiculous challenges, and bonus points for science clichés: Fun for all the faculty!
Siobhan writes for Writes
Finally, we’re very pleased to be publishing a new A-Z series from Bristol writer Siobhan Fairgreaves. Catch up on A is for Atom and B is for Black Hole, and get C sent straight to your inbox using the Follow button in the bottom righthand corner of this page;-)
Phew, that’s plenty for now. We’re also in talks about a number of other events throughout this year, so look out for details in the not too far away future. If you want to get in touch about an idea, just chuck us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the contact page, we would LOVE to hear from you 💯
Veteran followers will have spotted the uptick in articles published on the RA site in the last couple of weeks. Now he’s got his feet under the WordPress dashboard, we can announce it’s all thanks to the efforts of Sam Jarman, the new editor for Rising Ape Collective.
Sam will be working with our roster of featured writers, including Anwen Bowers and Jon Farrow, as well as writing his own series on unanswered questions in cosmology. He may even be called upon to brutally edit that science poetry Antony keeps threatening us with. If you’d like to be hosted on the site, why not contact Sam about writing for Rising Ape.
We’ll let Sam tell you more about himself in time-honoured, RA style guide mandated, third person:
Having finished a Physics degree, Sam decided he was probably better at writing about science than researching it, and decided to take the lazy noble path of becoming a science journalist. He’s now taking the Science Communication course at UWE in Bristol, where he met the Rising Ape team.
Sam’s biggest interests in science are astrophysics and particle physics, which he likes to try and explain to people (even the parts he doesn’t really understand himself), most likely annoying them in the process. You’d think Brian Cox would be fearing for his job, but unfortunately Sam’s voice just isn’t soothing enough to become a suitable rival.
Sam’s favourite supersymmetric particle: The sstrange squark
‘Really clever concept, good fun and I really liked the way the science is woven in!’ – Audience member
‘I feel grotty’ – Another Audience member
After a busy 2016, Rising Ape squeezed one more event in before the end of the year. A freezing, foggy 1st of December saw a small, boisterous crowd weathering extreme elements, limited visibility and the Conan Doyle-ish Capital D dread of it all to make it down to the Bristol Improv Theatre. There, together they became the audience for, well, The Audience.
Guided by courtroom algorithm ALIX, the Audience became shaped into a cohesive unit, passing judgement on the sentence for a dramatic court case, and getting a glimpse into what justice in the future might be like. The immersive experience aimed to get people thinking about the consequences of trusting machines with our thoughts and biases. And all through the brandishing of LED lights and making friends with a slightly sarcastic A.I.
After the interval, the energised group began a passionate discussion with a panel consisting of:
Dr Sabine Hauert, Lecturer in Robotics at the Bristol Robotic Laboratory
Andrew Charlesworth, Reader in IT & Law at the University of Bristol
Dr Rosie Clark, Research Associate in Experimental Psychology at the University of Bristol
Antony Poveda, Producer for Rising Ape Collective and member of the cast.
Together the experts and audience discussed how far we are willing to trust algorithms with important decisions, personal experiences of the effectiveness of juries, and how little society is aware of the companies behind the technology we give data to. The engaging and highly productive session was filmed and we’ll be publishing the full video later in the New Year.
This production of The Audience was also incredibly valuable from our viewpoint. Learning from the performance at Green Man, we took the opportunity to tighten the script, take advantage of the new venue to really up the atmosphere (the mist certainly helped a bit there), choreograph new immersive moments, and, best of all, discover how well the performance works as a stimulus to get an audience talking with experts about these timely issues.
Want to experience The Audience for yourself? Follow us using the button below and look out for news of performances in 2017, as well as the film of the panel discussion, coming soon.
Last month our latest event Memory Makers took place at the At-Bristol Data Dome (the big silver ball on Millenium Square). In full dome 360 projection, we featured an exclusive look at the game Cascade and how it’s transforming what’s going on in the brain of someone with Alzheimer’s into a gaming experience like no other.
In an immersive walkthrough session we heard from researcher Jody and developer Gaz on how the hallmarks of the disease lent themselves perfectly to a game medium. The thoroughly engaged audience then asked some thoughtful questions and we got into the details of the amyloid hypothesis and the process of game development. It was, as one attendee put it, ‘informative and visually amazing!’.
The audience also got to explore more of their brains through (jelly) tissue dissection, freaky audio illusions, and the gameshow stylings of Head 2 Head – see the packed leaderboard in the pics and try to spot your score if you were there.
For us, the most positive outcome was how excited the team behind the game were about the possibilities of taking the Cascade full dome 360 projection experience to new places. Who knows, Cascade could be coming to a planetarium near you soon…
Huge thanks to Jody, Fayju Games, Ruth Murray and At-Bristol, plus our lovely volunteers for all their hard work. Thanks also to the Biochemical Society for funding the event.
Last month, Rising Ape took Your Choice: The Game to a field in the heart of Green Man Festival as part of the famous Einstein’s Garden, an area of the fest dedicated to exploring science, nature and other wild ideas.
Each day, at 2.30pm sharp, makeshift cancer research groups sat down in the Garden’s workshop dome to play the board game element of Your Choice and got to grips with choosing the direction of their research. More than 60 people get involved over the weekend, working together in their teams to make the most of their resources, beat cancer sooner and get to the top of the scoreboard. In the end, Team Maroon and Green won the comp by a single point (!) to win the prizes on offer.
Before starting the weekend, we had some questions about whether Your Choice would work as a purely facilitated game, without the powerful monologue performances… And at a music festival. These questions were answered and, what’s more, we learned some new things about the game.
Question 1: Who would play it? Here was our first surprise: The audience was much more diverse than we expected, and the game worked well for everyone! We had teams of children, families, couples, people likely under the influence of some interesting substances… The most pleasant surprise was that children as young as 12 were really grasping the idea of how to play and we had a few younger than that who were into the dice rolling and gem spending. It got very competitive.
And while we thought people with a relationship with cancer research would be interested, in fact most of the teams we spoke to had little or no previous knowledge of cancer or cancer research. We got people involved by setting up an example board at the front of the workshop dome next to the high score board, and asked anyone who stopped for a moment if they wanted to play a game. It’s hard to resist the lure of a crisp deck of cards and a pile of shiny gems.
Question 2: Would people stick around? Yes. All the teams playing the game were fully engaged for the whole forty minutes of play time. Although there was an option to leave after the first 20 minute section, everyone wanted to carry on and finish the second section.
This meant some teams were engaged with the activity for nearly an hour solid, even with all the distractions available at a music festival! It was commented on by Einsteins Garden staff that it was unusual to see people stay for so long in the workshop dome and it’s great to see that, as hoped, the game can hold attention without the monologue breaks.
Question 3: How would people deal with the theme? There were several moments in games where people, parents mainly, talked to the rest of their team about the types of cancer that had occurred in their family and it was nice to see these conversations happen naturally through playing.
And there was more food for thought. Interestingly, we had several questions about whether it was possible to buy the game at the festival, and a teacher said they would love to get hold of it for their biology class. Making the game available to a wider audience is something we will definitely be interested in exploring with CRUK.
So engaging music lovers with cancer research in a wet Welsh field? Check! Thanks to everyone who made the weekend possible, especially Will, Maddy of Einstein’s Garden and the workshop dome volunteers. We look forward to the next outing for Your Choice. Could it be in your area?
On 27th September, Rising Ape enters the At-Bristol Planetarium dome to bring you a unique journey into a truly mysterious world: Your own brain.
In partnership with Fayju Games and the University of Bath, Memory Makers will be an evening of unlikely experiences inside your mind. Come along to find out how much your brain can really remember, how easily it can be fooled, and how local researchers are trying to better understand and treat dementia.
Taking in jelly brain dissections, competitive memory games, and an exhilarating 3D preview of upcoming VR game Cascade, developed in collaboration with neuroscientists — plus a bar and the classic At-Bristol exhibits. Altogether, the evening promises to be a night you’ll definitely want to remember.
Running our events, sometimes you know how things will go and sometimes you just have to trust it will work. Sometimes you’ll even be surprised. Running our events in a field at a music festival? You’re guaranteed all three possibilities.
The Rising Ape team took two different interactive events to Einstein’s Garden, the magical centre of Green Man Festival, and both delivered heaps of expected and unexpected outcomes. After last year’s first foray, we really wanted to step up and push what we could offer the good festival goers of Green Man. Without too much modesty, and mainly thanks to those same excellent punters, the weekend surpassed those (un)expectations!
On the Friday, The Audience took over the Omni Tent in a blaze of anticipation and mystery. The newly created theatrical experience full of smartarse AI, hand held LEDs and mob mentality was designed to connect and confuse it’s titular audience (in the best possible way). It certainly succeeded! We’ll leave off talking about what actually happens for now as we don’t want to spoil the experience too much. We’re excited to be planning more performances this autumn, however, so maybe you should come see for yourself…
And Your Choice came along for the ride as well. Our team-based experience themed on cancer research, and developed with CRUK, was transferred to a completely new style of venue, a giant dome, where it ran as a daily gaming session. It was fantastic to see the game engaging people from all ages and backgrounds over the weekend, with players taking on their different roles within research groups and being totally focused on working together to beat cancer sooner. Read more on what we learned about Your Choice here.
We really want to thank Will, Maddy, Ellen who organise Einstein’s Garden, and everyone else, sound deskers, workshop assistants, who helped us produce the events to their full potential. We look forward to working with you again next year!
Woop woop! The Rising Ape is waving his favourite mango around his head which means, if we consult our English to Ape dictionary, that he is returning to Einstein’s Garden at Green Man Festival for a second year! Hooray!
What’s he doing now? Oh dear, well that’s not very mature at all. Naughty Ape. Although, apparently, those gestures do translate into the fantastic news that there will be TWO Rising Ape events at the festival this year, so even more hooray!
Yes, there’ll be two different Rising Ape experiences in the Garden for 2016: The fast-paced excitement of Your Choice: The Game, and the mysterious immersive theatre of The Audience (Oooooooooh).
Located right in the beating heart of the Festival, Einstein’s Garden is the arena of choice for those seeking weird, unlikely and downright indescribable encounters with science, scientists and people dressed up as robots claiming to be scientists.
We’re proud to be bringing two of our most progressive events yet to this special place. Stop by the workshop dome everyday to play Your Choice: The Game and try to beat the high scores of other teams of role playing cancer researchers.
Then make sure to RSVP for your invite to The Audiencein the Omni Tent, the theatre show where you and your fellow humans will get to prove what you can do together in the potential present of our future… With glowsticks. More on that pretentious nonsense soon, promise.
All in all, it promises to be a very special weekend of music, mayhem and maybe even maths? Head here for more info on the Rising Ape shows, and all the other wonderous acts and events taking place between 18-22 August at the best festival in the country located deep in the Brecon Beacons, just past Crickhowell, where they burn a huge green man effigy on the final night and Charlotte Church is running the karaoke.
Hope to see you there (especially in the karaoke)!