Amy chats to Ray Shell director of Sound Clash: Death In The Arena which is on at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.

Hey Ray – here’s your chance to give an elevator pitch, can you give us a brief synopsis?

In a futuristic, dystopian London…60 years in the future, MUSIC is more monetized than it is today and is being used as a tool to divide and conquer the struggling inhabitants of North and South London. Instead of voting for government representatives to deliver needed resources to the London regions, a yearly Sound Clash competition is employed to determine what region…North or South…will be in control of the precious resources. The winner of the Sound Clash has the power to distribute the money, policies and services to North and South London, the CLASH is fierce, the stakes are high and the competitors will use any mechanism to win…including murder. Our Sound Clash story is told through Jamaican dancehall choreography with our young, talented cast dancing out this hi-octane story, to a powerful soundtrack of classic, Jamaican, dancehall tunes. You don’t want to miss this.

What inspired the show?

Our producer, Levi Roots, grew up in the London/Jamaican Sound Clash community; to this day, he remains immersed in the music, dance and fashion of this performance genre and wants to use our production as a platform to realise his vision of introducing Sound Clash culture to a diverse, global audience.

How important is the Fringe for new work? And how does it feel to be at the Fringe this year?

The Fringe is extremely important as a showcase for new work; shows like BEYOND THE FRINGE (which established the careers of ALAN BENNETT, DUDLEY MOORE, PETER COOK and JONATHAN MILLER), the international stage hit of TOM STOPPARD ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD, STOMP and JERRY SPRINGER THE OPERA all started at the Edinburgh Theatre Festival and went to on conquer the West End and Broadway…we’d like to add Sound Clash: Death In The Arena to that notable list. I am thrilled beyond words and sooo excited to be part of the 2023 Edinburgh Fringe. I’ve visited the Edinburgh Fringe several seasons ago and have found that the Fringe audiences are very discerning; they are the first to discover a rough theatrical or comedy diamond and will SPREAD THE WORD if they love the production, so getting the Edinburgh Fringe seal of approval is extremely important to Sound Clash.

What are the main themes within the production, and what can audiences expect?

Sound Clash explores the themes of family, forbidden love, loyalty, personal transformation, rebellion and spirituality.

Finally, with so many shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, why should people book tickets to this show?

Without seeing or knowing the different shows that are part of the 2023 festival, I KNOW that there is no other show like Sound Clash: Death In The Arena. Our choreographer, JADE HACKETT is at this moment choreographing the new version of MISS SAIGON in Sheffield (I was in the original West End version with LEA SALONGA and JONATHAN PRICE) and her choreographic ideas for Sound Clash are astounding; I want to combine the elements of dance, spoken word, a dystopian soundscape and the amazing, classic, dance hall tracks to create a hybrid entertainment that makes you FEEL the emotion of the story, FEEL the sonic power of the music that will eject an audience out of their seats to dance in the aisle.

Sound Clash: Death In The Arena is on at Pleasance Courtyard from the 2nd – 28th August at 4.10pm – info here!

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