Caleb Lewis was a Griffin Studio Artist in 2018. His show Exclusion Zone was a Batch Festival highlight last year, and this year, Caleb brings his next piece of interactive theatre for audiences to take part in to Batch. A Little History Play sees audiences form societies that change the world, only to hand their world over to a new audience the next night. It’s part-theatre, part-video game, and all highly entertaining. Book yourself a ticket and hop to it, but in the mean time, get the inside scoop on this brand new work below.
1. Introduce yourself with a fun fact that someone might not know about you!
As well as being a playwright, I’m currently studying how to mash up games and theatre into a hybrid art form that emphasises play. I’ve been mucking around with both forms, looking for ways to combine them that allows the story to evolve organically out of play, rather than dictating it beforehand. The best theatre feels like an event, and by opening it up to audience interaction and uncertainty, I’m curious to see what kind of stories we might come up with together. They might be brilliant or they might be terrible. The only way to find out is to play!
2. Paint us a picture of A Little History Play in 5 words.
3. What was the inspiration behind the creation of the show?
A Little History Play is driven by my interest in dynamic narratives, which aren’t fixed, like regular storylines, but play out differently every performance. If you think of a game of football, we know who the characters are (the players and the coaches) and we know the setting (the oval) but we don’t know the outcome (who wins) until it’s over. That got me thinking: what if you could capture that same uncertainty in the theatre? In A Little History Play, there are no spectators, the only way to see it is to play. Each night participants are asked to collectively govern a fictional nation. At the end of the night, this country, along with all of its treasures and all of its problems, will be left to the next night’s players to inherit. By taking elements from games and performance, I’m hoping to help audiences make history, and then to document the whole crazy thing as it unfolds online.
4. What are you most looking forward to about bringing your show to Batch Festival 2019 at Griffin?
I can’t wait to see what people come up with. What decisions they make as they respond to the various curveballs the game throws at them, what type of country we end up with, what events players choose to commemorate (and ignore), and what future generations (the next night’s players) make of the country they’ve been left with.
5. Which other shows are you hoping to catch at Batch?
David Finnigan’s work is always innovative and You’re Safe till 2024 looks set to continue that trend. Adriano Cappelletta is a gifted storyteller and Never Let Me Go sounds quietly devastating, while wāni Le Frère’s Tales of an Afronaut sounds simply stunning.