In 2013, I created Deadinburgh. An immersive production about biomedical science and what it means to be human. It was the second major production in LAStheatre’s Enlightenment Cafe series.
‘Deadinburgh achieves something special in so effectively patrolling the boundary between straightforward horror-movie excitement and the powerful ethical and strategic questions raised.’ – The Scotsman
An unknown pathogen ravages Scotland’s capital, turning the unlucky souls into bloodthirsty ambling beasts. You are one of the last uninfected citizens in a city under martial law, cut off from the rest of the UK. Now, with help from real scientists, you have only hours to decide how to save Edinburgh, and perhaps the world.
Deadinburgh introduced the audience to the worlds of epidemiology and biomedical science through a night of immersive theatre. In a theatrical world, with actors playing the infected hordes and besieged soldiers, the audience met genuine scientists using real science to solve a fictitious disease. In the end the audience had to decide whether to destroy the city, cull the infected, or search for a cure; the fate of the city was in their hands. Through the outbreak of a zombie epidemic Deadinburgh asked ‘what does it really mean to be human’ whilst offering parallels with real life science and procedures for managing disease outbreaks.
It’s difficult to imagine a more perfect venue than Summerhall for an event like Deadinburgh, the big, loud, challenging live zombie movie – with mass audience participation…the sheer horror-movie thrill of a zombie plague story played out around the looming Summerhall complex, as the audience – divided into six groups, each with a different experience – is herded along by shouting, panicky soldiers; we catch occasional glimpses of the advancing army of infected zombies, devouring a corpse in the yard, or attacking the troops…we are led into laboratories and lecture rooms to hear teams of real-life scientists from leading UK institutions – epidemiologists, virologists, neuroscientists, psychotherapists – explain the options available, and help us make our collective decision…The show achieves something special in so effectively patrolling the boundary between straightforward horror-movie excitement, and the powerful ethical and strategic questions raised by a crisis that threatens not only our own lives, but the survival of the whole city. And while there’s plenty of talk, at the moment, about bridging the gap between arts and science, this is a show that actually does it; and provides a good, exhausting, thought-provoking night out, into the bargain.
– Joyce Mcmillian
Deadinburgh is the latest production in LAStheatre’s Enlightenment Café series.
Edinburgh University, Heriot Watt, Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology, The Roslin Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.