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Children hi-jack game show technology to reverse the spin of celebrity culture.

Cast from 8 different schools in Hull, 22 teenage actors are performing in John Godber’s new play, Next Best Thing, at the Edinburgh Fringe this week. The play’s themes attack the obsession with celebrity and, by using the same concept as text-voting in reality TV shows, theatre audiences have the means to give immediate feedback about the show and for their criticism to make a direct impact on the performance.

Response indicates that people are not shy of expressing their opinions. But then the actors have to come to terms with the feedback and choose whether or not they adapt their performance to please the public for the next show. So far, most people think it is a fantastic show, with brilliant acting, singing and dancing, but others want the actors to ‘speak up’ with some actors labelled ‘weak.’ One audience member thought the song at the end was pointless, and another thought that it was time Godber got off his ‘working class’ soapbox.

The play’s themes counter the prevalence of celebrity culture and its pressure on children, but does the feedback technology really correct this, or just make the pressure worse?

Deputy Headmaster, Loz Wilson, at Kingswood College of Art, instigated the idea, inviting John Godber to write the play for Edinburgh, and OnePoint’s research director, Dr Tim Snaith, to provide the technology to get instant opinion on every show.

Dr Tim Snaith is available for telephone interviews.

Loz Wilson, and the cast, are in Edinburgh now, and are available for TV and radio Vox Pops. Performance details below.

Performances are at the C venue, remaining shows, Fri 10 & Sat 11 August.

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