Theatre: Operation Black Antler, Southbank Theatre

A politically charged immersive theatre piece which invites audiences to act as undercover cops is coming to the stage.

Operation Black Antler is a co-created production by interactive art company Blast Theory, and theatre company Hydrocracker, playing at the Southbank Centre.

The production places audiences in the position of an undercover police operative infiltrating a protest group on the fringes of society.

The experience begins with a text message telling audiences where and when to meet.

Then in small groups they work to develop their undercover character, learning about their targets and their motivations before going operational.

Part role play game, part interactive theatre, Operation Black Antler is an invitation to explore the moral and ethical dilemma of how far undercover surveillance is acceptable in the name of state security.

This is a highly topical show tackling the rise of the far-right and anti-immigration.

Matt Adams, co-founder of Blast Theory, said: “You decide on your cover story and how far you want to take it.

“Audiences have told us that they feel empowered by this – it’s fascinating to me that people are so hungry to understand where ‘the other side’ is coming from.

“I believe to really enter into a debate about the ethics of state sanctioned surveillance and how far it should go to protect its citizens, we need to step into different shoes.”

Operation Black Antler gives audiences an opportunity to meet, build with, and try to win the trust of someone whose political and moral views may be the polar opposite of their own.

Jem Wall, artistic director of Hydrocracker Theatre, said: “We’re acutely aware of the heightened atmosphere of political turmoil and anxiety around us – making the context of the piece all the more real and raw.

“That’s very much affected the way we’ve treated the script and the characterisation.

“While it’s impossible to predict exactly where Britain will be come opening night at Southbank Centre, one thing is certain: that it’s unlikely to be a settled political picture and we’ll need to be sensitive to that.”

Operation Black Antler will run from April 3-13 and takes place off-site at the Southbank Centre, the exact location is revealed after you have booked.

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