London-based production company Optimist Creations is pushing boundaries by making its "apocalyptic comedy" Top Story available worldwide as a full-length video stream and download, allowing people to name their own price.
Making theatre accessible to new, especially young, audiences can be a significant challenge for producers, with the cost of staging live shows often making it difficult to keep ticket prices affordable.
After their successful run at legendary London Off-West-End venue The Old Vic Tunnels, Optimist Creations were looking for a way of making their End of The World play Top Story available to people for whom the show had been out of reach.
They came across Gumroad, an online content hosting platform that gives people the freedom to set their own price.
"This really appealed to us," says Optimist-founder Sebastian Michael: "audiences, wherever in the world they are, can now discover it, and because you just pay what you can - what you think it's worth to you - the threshold is really low: you're able to take a risk."
In this darkly hilarious and poignant play, Sebastian Michael imagines The End of the World not as a disaster movie, but as experienced by two young men from the comfort of their sofa:
A meteor the size of LA is about to hit LA, ironically, and in London Talfryn and Gus spend their last seven days watching the news, reinventing chess and rewriting the rules of some of the other games in their universe: generally getting things into perspective, at once paralysed and inspired by the 'overallness of it all'.
Getting ready, as best they can, to die together, the enormity of what's about to happen completely overwhelms them, but it also brings out in them a whole burst of creative energy, and so as the story to top all stories unfolds, they inadvertently become its co-authors, while in a dimension far beyond their imagination, their soul-mates-in-spirit are having something of an unexpected ball...
Top Story is available as pay-what-you-can video stream and download on Gumroad at https://gumroad.com/l/topstory