‘The gap between rich and poor is getting bigger and bigger around the world. Social media feeds and accelerates this ever-deepening divide. In the global south we see the children of elites and post-colonial dictatorships flashing cash, dollar signs, Bollinger and infinity pool holidays while people languish under sanctions and dictatorships. All around the world more and more people, like their countries, are running out of steam, and their ruling classes are only out for themselves. How did we get here, and what might come next?’
The creators of award-winning show ‘The Believers Are But Brothers‘ return to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this August with the world premiere of a show that confronts climate change, anxiety, the collapse of political certainties and how privileged kids behave on Instagram.
‘Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran‘ is a play about entitlement and consumption, about how digital technology is complicit in social apartheid and gentrification and the human problem of what successful and brutal people do with their coddled and useless children. It’s the sequel to the award-winning ‘The Believers Are But Brothers’, and the second part of a trilogy of plays from Javaad Alipoor about how digital technology, resentment and fracturing identity are changing the world.
Inspired by the stories of power and unrest across large swathes of the world, while the leaders of countries like Iran preach an austere form of nationalism and religion, their children enjoy the fruits of their parents’ riches: social media means that the poorest can see how the rich are living.
Photographs have always done something weird to how we tell stories. As Susan Sontag pointed out, they have a way of freezing time, and making things look like they start, stop or at least pause at certain places. It’s not that the way we tell the story of our lives on Instagram or by photo is any less truthful than any other way we curate ourselves.
But it’s so easy to publish, you can share and scroll with almost limitless resource. Nothing ever runs out. So about 1.8 billion pictures are uploaded to social media every day. That’s 657 billion a year. Which is to say, every two minutes human beings share more photographs than existed in total a century ago.
‘Rich Kids‘ is a Javaad Alipoor and HOME co-production, in association with Traverse Theatre, co-commissioned by Diverse Actions, Theatre in the Mill, Norfolk & Norwich Festival and Bush Theatre. The production features dramaturgy by Chris Thorpe, stage design by Lucy Osborne, sound design by Simon McCorry and projection/video by Limbic Cinema. Alipoor and Peyvand Sadeghian star.
Javaad Alipoor is an artist, director, writer and activist who regularly makes theatre with and for communities that don’t usually engage in the arts. In 2017 his play, ‘The Believers Are But Brothers’, opened at Transform Festival in Leeds before transferring for a sold-out, critically acclaimed run at Summerhall at the Edinburgh Fringe, where it received a Scotsman Fringe First Award. It has since enjoyed a London run, toured to Sweden, Canada and Australia, and was adapted for television and premiered on BBC4 in March 2019.
Last year, Alipoor directed the stage adaptation of ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ for Sheffield Theatres, to mark the end of his three-year tenure as Associate Director at The Crucible Theatre. His previous stage work includes ‘Orgreave: An English Civil War’, about the Miners’ Strike and the Arab Spring and ‘My Brother’s Country’, about murdered Iranian pop icon Fereydoun Farrokhzad. Javaad Alipoor is Artistic Director of Northern Lines, resident of The Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio, a collaborator of The National Theatre’s Immersive Story Studio, a member of Arts Council England’s Northern Council, and was a founding trustee of Artistic Directors of the Future.
Regarding the world premiere of ‘Rich Kids’, Alipoor, said “The Fringe is a fantastic place to premiere work, particularly timely work exploring the society we live in. It’s exciting to be performing it for the first time at the Traverse, with its reputation for new writing.”
‘This is a story about the Rich Kids of Tehran.
But this is also a play about Instagram.
And about history and the way it feels like it’s catching up with us’.
Traverse 2, Traverse Theatre, 1st – 24th August – BUY TICKETS
Alipoor’s breakthrough play, the first in the trilogy, ‘The Believers Are But Brothers‘ also returns to the Fringe this year after its hugely successful run in 2017. Fresh from the UK premiere of its BBC4 adaptation, this Scotsman Fringe First (2017) winner returns for a limited run at Assembly, opening on 19th August.
Studio 2, Assembly George Square Studios, 19th – 24th August – BUY TICKETS