Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2019 
Theo Sawkins: "We hope that people will walk away from the show reflecting a little more on some of the questions that we have been asking ourselves throughout."
CICADA 3301  | Underbelly, Bristo Square​  
Till Aug 26 | 12:20 | TICKETS
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Cicada 3301 is a play about the human desire for purpose, community and the search for order in chaos.

Hi Theo thanks for talking to TNC, how are things going?

Really well, thanks. Hope everything is going great with you too!

Are you looking forward to being at Underbelly this summer?

We’re really excited to be performing at such an incredible venue. Underbelly is known for hosting a diverse range of shows and we are humbled to be performing alongside so many talented theatre-makers.

Do you have any nerves ahead of your run?

Some, but we’re mostly just excited to be finally putting on our show!

Can you tell me a little bit about CICADA 3301 what can we expect?

CICADA 3301 is a play about one of the most mysterious, still unsolved Internet puzzles. The society, CICADA 3301, first appeared in January 2012 on Reddit and has become one of the most enduring Internet mysteries: a scavenger hunt that has led competitors across the web, down old manuscripts to several physical locations around the globe and into uncharted areas of the darknet. 

The play is about a group of individuals who form a community around a shared desire to solve this mystery. You can expect a thrilling story about the human desire for purpose and community, asking ever-pressing questions of the importance of privacy in the 21st Century. 

What was the inspiration behind this new play?

Our co-director, Aaron, stumbled upon the CICADA 3301 mystery a while back and it immediately piqued his interest. Whilst the mystery itself was interesting, what really fascinated him were the people trying to solve it. Why were people working so hard for something with no ostensible purpose or end? This show is a culmination of extensive research and investigation into the people working on this mystery.

"...we were struck by how the CICADA mystery often required huge amounts of collaboration..."

What has been the most challenging part of putting this show together? 

Staying true to the story of the scavenger for ‘highly intelligent individuals, whilst keeping it accessible and theatrically engaging for all kinds of audiences has been a challenge.  We have learnt a lot in the process and hope we have managed to somewhat achieve this fine balance.

When devising a new play how important is it to be flexible and open to change do you need to be?

We think you absolutely need to be open and flexible. Establishing a clear structure from which to work on in rehearsals is certainly key, but only insofar as it is a point to deviate from. While the skeleton of our original idea has remained, the characters and story have changed with every rehearsal. To us, that is the beauty of devising. The intensely collaborative environment is charged with creative energy, so it is crucial to maintain open and flexible throughout.  

Does the show change much when it's running?   

Some aspects of the show will definitely change from night to night. While we will end up in a similar place, the path we take to get there may often vary!

How important is the collaborative nature of theatre-making?

Collaboration has been an enormous part of the creation of this play. We have devised the play as a company, but the play itself also speaks to the importance and challenges of collaboration. In researching the mystery, we were struck by how the CICADA mystery often required huge amounts of collaboration, which consequently formed many online and offline communities. 

Have you always had a passion for theatre?

All of us have always had a fierce passion for theatre. 

How did Cambridge University Fishbowl Theatre Productions come about?

Aaron and Issy, the co-directors, met at Cambridge with a shared interest in fresh, innovative theatre. They decided to create the company to bring together people with a passion for telling new, untold stories. 

Has your approach to your shows changed much since you started?

This is our first show as a company! While many of our company members have worked together before, this is the first time that we will be able to collaborate intensely on a show.

What 3 words best describe this show?




What you do you hope to gain from your first fringe experience?

We hope to take CICADA 3301 and the company beyond the Fringe and perform the show elsewhere as well! We also can’t wait to see all the other amazing shows at Underbelly and beyond!

And finally, what do you want your audiences to take away from CICADA 3301?

We hope that people will walk away from the show reflecting a little more on some of the questions that we have been asking ourselves throughout. What does it mean to find a purpose in life? Does privacy protect you? Ultimately, however, we just want people to walk away feeling giddy and excited to keep learning about the CICADA mystery.

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