© Jody Hartley

© Jody Hartley

Chapter Ten of the Boomtown chronicles finds a world changed far from the dream of Nickolas Boom, a grand city where once only a small village stood, a world of bright lights and dizzying heights, where distraction is the main attraction and the people are divided by the passage of time.

The mighty Bang Hai Corporation has cemented its grip on all aspects of society and commerce in the wake of the failed uprising of Chapter Eight and the people are being divided and conquered by the invasive hyper connected charm of new technology, distracting them with an endless barrage of manufactured dreams.

© Sam Neill

© Sam Neill

The only challenge to this digital autocracy comes from an unknown hacker cell that breached security systems to data mine the dirt on Bang Hai operatives and their murky investments. But in a world of distraction and fake news even the truth it seems can easily be denied, and its purveyors dismissed as criminals and enemies.

In the wake of this so-called threat, Bang Hai Industry have developed a new security system that will track and process the movements, wants and desires of every citizen almost before they know themselves. Advanced Machine Intelligence (AMI) promises to protect the interests of everyone and once activated cannot be stopped, the beauty of this system of course is that the people volunteer this information freely, through their subscription to social media platforms, free offers, purchase histories and search algorithms.

The CEO of BHI sat as a king atop the Bang Hai Towers watching as this digital empire spread like a virus across the population, knowing that with all the resources within his control no one could challenge the corporation’s supremacy.

Until his head of security spotted an old face stumbling through the crowds, a ghost in the machine, a nemesis thought long banished and forgotten.

The final battle approaches as the future of the city and its people hangs in the balance, both outcomes offer freedom and liberty, just of slightly different kinds! The freedom to be vs the freedom to buy. Who will be the winners or losers in the next era of our history? Who will rise and who shall fall, as those before them have come and gone? Only you can decide, to change the future and turn the tide.

Sounds wild, right? This year, Fyne Times favourite, spectacular immersive festival and ‘The UK’s Maddest City’, Boomtown, enters its tenth year. Here, Jack Rayner speaks to creative producer Natalie Smith about what’s been going on behind the scenes at Boomtown HQ.

Hi Natalie, what’s new this year at Boomtown?

We don’t want to give too much away, but as always, we have a lot of new things and a few districts have changed completely. Things are going in a brand new direction. The biggest change is Paradise Heights; stemming from the former Mayfair, which is going to be a completely new district. It’s Bang Hai Industry’s new holiday complex, where they send the rich and famous to leisure amongst all things expensive.

© Paul Whitley

© Paul Whitley

What sort of performances will we see there?

It’s still a very elitist area, and it’s still focused on opulence. One of the main things that’s quite different this year is that on top of our main stage shows, we’re going to be putting shows into the districts. Paradise Heights is going to have its own bespoke show on Friday and Saturday night, which is not to be missed. The once Copper Feel Cabaret are now ‘Copper Feel Cabaret Live’, so instead of being based from their rather expensive but seedy brothel in Mayfair, they’re now a full Vegas show with a specifically LGBTQ-friendly space opening in the evening. We have the old Charlie Brown crew back, who are now the Venus Lounge Casino, and then we have many more bits and bobs that I can’t yet say too much about. It’s going to have a real ‘holiday complex’ feel and you can come and be pampered, as long as you’re rich enough or play the game well enough to get in…

What would your advice be for a Boomtown virgin?

Well, where to start? Most people say that it’s impossible to explore the entire city over four days. You want to make sure you read up on the storyline before you get there, because having some understanding of the narrative will really allow you to see the meaning behind the different shows, characters and spectacles that you’ll encounter. Also, look after yourself – it’s easy to get carried away on the first night – and use the daytime to explore the city.

What about seasoned Boomtown veterans?

Knock on doors, immerse yourself and get involved. Go to areas that you’ve never been to or maybe even camp on the other side of the festival to your normal spot.

What’s the limit for the future? How mad can it get?

There’s no limit. We were recently talking about how sometimes you can hit a blank in the creative process, that sometimes continues for a little longer than you’d like, but we have such an amazing and passionate team that we just feed off each other and excite each other. Also, there are always more and more crazy nutters out there who will keep bringing crazy ideas to the table. Boomtown will push the outer limits of creativity for evermore.

Boomtown | 9-12 August | Matterley Estate near Winchester, Hampshire


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