This article is sponsored by Dutch Kills Theatre.
Online sci-fi adventure KlaxAlterian Sequester aims to take you on a time-bending journey
- Emma Simmonds
- 9 August 2021
This ingeniously conceived remote theatre experience from Ben Beckley and Asa Wember immerses you in an alien invasion
Originally created for the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown, the nail-biting online adventure KlaxAlterian Sequester centres on an alien invasion. Audiences are invited to reflect on their humanity as they play their part in fighting back. In the words of its co-creator Asa Wember, it is an 'immersive, ambulatory, audio theatre experience which takes place in your home.'
Developed by Wember and writer/performer Ben Beckley with Fresh Ground Pepper and brought to you by the New York-based Dutch Kills Theater Company and Assembly Festival, KlaxAlterian Sequester was well-received on its earlier run, winning acclaim from the New York Times among others. It has been freshly rebooted for summer 2021, with the 50-minute show making its UK debut as part of this year's Edinburgh Fringe and available to watch on demand from now until Monday 30 August.
It all sounds very intriguing but how does it work in practice? Well, those taking part will receive an urgent message sent from 60 years in the future and will have to help thwart the alien takeover by understanding how the KlaxAlterians view our species. Wember describes how 'armed with a smartphone and headphones, you move from room to room through your house or apartment, listening to transmissions from the future which ask you to consider yourself and your surroundings through a new lens.'
This piece of remotely available theatre was originally designed to make a creative virtue out of pandemic restrictions, as it riffs on the now-ubiquitous experience of quarantine and isolation. The show's success is testament to its creators' ability to be flexible and go with the flow. 'Ben and I have been developing the phone-based audio theatre form since 2019, with the original intention of doing outdoor, walking-tour type shows,' Wember explains. 'We were scheduled to have an outdoor show in NYC in April of 2020. Then the pandemic hit, and there was a time in March and April when you were supposed to quarantine in your home and not go outside. So we adapted our work-in-progress to take place inside the home.'
KlaxAlterian Sequester promises to take audiences on a time-bending journey where past, present and future disconcertingly merge. Beckley (who also appears in the show as Albertine, whose frantic transmissions punctuate proceedings) describes how the pair's ideas worked just as well when the show was modified for a home-based audience: 'We realised that the themes of our show – considering how our perspective is always tied to a particular time, a particular place, and a particular human body – apply as much to walking around your apartment or house as they do to walking around the storied streets of Manhattan. So we pivoted, and we created this thing that, we hope, will defamiliarise your relationship to time, and space, and your body, and make you experience them in a different way.'
If there's one thing the last 18 months have encouraged it is greater accessibility to the arts, with shows being opened up to audiences beyond those able to attend in person, and more experiences being conceived for and delivered online. This imaginative adventure is one such success story, with Wember summing up one of its key selling points: 'KlaxAlterian Sequester was designed to be as universally applicable as possible – if you have a smartphone, internet and a home with a bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom, then you can run the show.'
KlaxAlterian Sequester is showing as part of the Assembly Showcatcher online programme and is suitable for ages 12+. Tickets are priced at £12. To find out more and take part, visit assemblyfestival.com/whats-on/the-klaxalterian-sequester-online.