Interactive zombie theatre piece The Generation of Z set for 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Following sell-out shows in New Zealand, this immersive horror-action play invites the audience to participate with the cast as survivors of a zombie apocalypse
This article is from 2014.
We kick off our coverage of New Zealand acts at the festival with an interactive zombie horror show. Before running for the hills, David Pollock sampled some undead delights with The Generation of Z
If the zombie genre didn’t keep coming back from the grave, we’d have to find a way to kill it. Myths of the undead have survived for longer than we might have realised (in Christian mythology for a start), but ever since George A Romero’s fresh horror take in the 1960s, it’s been accelerating at pace through films, books, games, comics, television shows, remakes and even the dependably weird Zombie Walks, with no sign of critical mass approaching.
Yet New Zealand co-producers Royale Productions and Game Change finally seem to have discovered a new spin on an old trope.
‘As far as we can tell, this is the first interactive theatre piece with zombies,’ says Charlie McDermott, producer of The Generation of Z. ‘There are tons of zombie runs and events like them, but none with a story or characters, or which offer a narrative that really places audiences into a world of zombies, as opposed to simply having them run around being chased. Also, a lot of those events are R18; we wanted to make something that you can bring your kids to, without making it “kiddie”. We want to give young people an arts experience without them realising they’re having one.’
The Generation of Z has previously been staged to sell-out seasons in Auckland and Christchurch, and this is its first foray abroad following Royale’s absurdist Shakespearean one-man show No Holds Bard last year. That it’s appearing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is appropriate, because it’s an experimental piece despite the genre’s familiarity. ‘We want to produce exciting, visceral works that appeal to audiences not catered for in the traditional theatre marketplace,’ says McDermott. ‘The Generation of Z has been created for young people who love video games. We’re reaching out to our next generation of audiences using the interactivity and hyper-reality they’re now all accustomed to in their online lives.’
It’s set in what’s described as ‘a site-specific abandoned military facility at the George Square Theatre’, and McDermott promises ‘an interactive, immersive horror-action play that invites audiences to participate with the cast as survivors of a zombie apocalypse. Audiences are asked to make decisions as a group, complete tasks and be guided by our military group of survivors in order to escape the zombies that surround the building. It’s an hour of thrills and spills (of blood).’
The story is everything here, and it’s through creators David Van Horn and Simon London’s ever-evolving show that the tension flows. ‘We want our audience to be thrilled and excited,’ says McDermott. ‘People love to be scared, and they love to be chased. We want our audience to leave feeling like they’ve never seen anything like this before and be exhausted, exhilarated and relieved. We want them to feel like they’ve completely lost touch with reality for the last hour. We want to provoke moral debate about the decision-making within the story, and for each survivor to compare their individual experiences. We aim to push our audience out of their comfort zones, and hope that this experience leaves them hungry for more.’
The Generation of Z, Assembly George Square Theatre, George Square, 0131 623 3030, 2–25 Aug (not 11, 19), various times, £12. Previews 31 Jul & 1 Aug, 9pm, 11.30pm, £8.